WATCH: Family of Mentally ill Man Killed by Police Releases Video of Shooting

March 17 2015

A mentally ill African-American man was shot by Dallas police officers last summer when he did not drop a screwdriver he was holding.

The family of the victim has released the footage from an officer’s body camera to the public.

38-year-old Jason Harrison suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and his mother had called for help in taking him to the local hospital after he had stopped taking his medication.

In the released video, Harrison’s mother answers the door, and Harrison comes along behind her, holding a screwdriver. The officers, who appear in the video to be white, demand that he drop the tool and seconds later fire several shots.

“It was the most heartbreaking experience in my life,” said his mother, Shirley Harrison, of the incident. “To stand there helpless, he’s helpless. I couldn’t help him. To be gunned down right before my eye.”

In October, Harrison’s family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in which they claim that Harrison did not pose a threat. Dallas Police Department spokesman Lieutenant Jose Garcia said that the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office had been sent the case and that a lawyer for the officers said they feared for their lives.

Harrison’s family disagrees. “We maintain the footage shows him not stabbing, not thrusting, not lunging in a way that would jeopardize the lives of these officer,” their attorney, Geoff Henley, said. “He never leaves the front porch and he’s gunned down.”

They are pressing for a wrongful death lawsuit. “We feel it’s vital to this case and we feel it’s vital to the public because this is not the way we want mental health cases contended with in our communities either here in Dallas County or elsewhere,” Henley said. “It’s absolutely horrific to be diagnosing schizophrenia with 9mm guns.”

The two officers involved, John Rodgers and Andrew Hutchins, are back on duty. But for Harrison’s family, the pain is still present.

“Every day I visualize the blood,” Shirley Harrison said. “All I visualize is the blood on his shirt. So it was very traumatic.”