Supreme Court Refuses To Rule On Whether Police Should Take Mental Illness Into Account

Michael Heise |

In a recent case, the supreme court sided with two San Francisco Police officers (PDF) who responded to a call for help from a social worker.

The social worker was acting as the defendant, Teresa Sheehan’s caretaker at her group home/health facility. Sheehan was a diagnosed schizophrenic and was known to break from reality, which is why she was being treated by a social worker.

She had stopped taking her medication, and the social worker described her condition as becoming “gravely disabled” and called police to transport her for involuntary commitment.

Police broke into her room and shot her several times after they claim she threatened them with a knife.

She miraculously survived.

Family members called for reform of how the police deal with the mentally ill, saying that if they had just called a family member or a mental health professional, the situation could have easily been diffused.

Seeing that about half of police shooting victims are mentally ill, that is a very reasonable position to have.

Police are not trained mental health professionals, and anybody who has ever had to deal with somebody with a mental illness could tell you that they are immune to reason, or even intimidation such as the cops rely on.

Meeting them with force is a recipe for disaster.

In fact, health professionals are under very strict guidelines to not use any force with the patients whatsoever, even if they are being attacked.

Lawyers for Sheehand argued that the polie “failed to reasonably accommodate her disability when they forced their way back into her room without taking her mental illness into account and without employing tactics that would have been likely to resolve the situation without injury to her or others.”

The police, of course, just used the magical phrase that they were afraid for their lives, and in a 6-2 vote the supreme court sided with them.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 3206 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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