Hundreds March in Rally Over Police Violence Against People With Mental Illness in Brooklyn

James Owens spent years wrestling with addiction and mental illness as he tried to eke out a normal life.

In January, city cops snatched that life away with a bullet, his grieving nephew said Saturday.

“(He) was gunned down like a wild animal in his own home,” John Martin said about his 63-year-old uncle, who was shot and killed as he confronted police with a knife. “He was supposed to be protected. He wasn’t provided without that assistance.”

Martin joined 200 others in condemning police violence against the mentally ill during a rally in Brooklyn on Saturday.

Many in attendance had relatives who suffered the same fate as Owens, who was shot in the head, neck and chest by cops — even though he stood more than 10 feet away from them.

Police were called when Owens, who was having an adverse reaction to his new medication, became agitated and began acting erratically. When officers arrived at his Canarsie home, he had a large knife in one hand and a spoon in the other.

Cops Tasered Owens, but when that didn’t work, they shot him, authorities said. Brooklyn prosecutors are investigating the incident.

At least three of Owens’ family members are NYPD cops, relatives said.

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Gathering at the Flatbush Gardens Houses on Saturday, protesters marked the spot where Dwayne Jeune was gunned down by police last month.

Like Owens, responding cops found Jeune with a knife when they were called to the housing project. When a Taser didn’t stop him, the officers used lethal force, family members said.

“We are really hoping that we put a stop to NYPD killing of not only the mentally ill, but innocent people as well,” said Carolyn Tomas, Jeune’s cousin, who said Dwayne hadn’t harmed anyone when he was shot.

Holding signs that read, “NYPD don’t kill the mentally ill,” the crowd marched to the nearby 67th Precinct stationhouse in East Flatbush where another rally was held.

The march was organized by attorney Sanford Rubenstein, who is currently representing four families who had mentally ill family members killed by police.

“Only 13% of NYPD officers have been trained how to deal with emotionally disturbed people,” Rubenstein said. “That is unacceptable for the people of New York. One hundred percent of police officers must be trained to deal with emotionally disturbed people.”

“When a family calls 911 for help they don’t want to see their loved one killed by police,” Rubenstein said.

At the beginning of August, 5,653 out of the 23,000 cops on patrol have received special training on how to handle the mentally ill, police said.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 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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