Demonstrators in Headland, Ala. gathered April 14 in an effort to draw national attention to the death of an unarmed, mentally ill man who was shot by police during an attempt to subdue him in January.
The death Jan. 31 of Patrick Humphrey, a 33-year-old schizophrenic, was the result of unnecessary use of lethal force, his family and local residents said. He was shot by local police who had been called to assist emergency medical personnel attacked during efforts to control him.
According to wtvy.com, police said they intervened when Humphrey attacked the paramedics who had been called by Humphrey’s mother. The man had been known to physically resist aid when an imbalance occurred in medication used to avoid deranged, sometimes violent, behavior.
“His mother called 911 to get help with her son. She did not call for anyone to come and kill her son,” said the Rev. Kenny Glasgow, a pastor in Dothan, and the brother of Rev. Al Sharpton, said, according to BlackAmericaWeb.com. “Patrick Humphrey did not have to die.”
Glasgow belongs to a group called The Ordinary People Society (T.O.P.S.), which spearheaded the march to focus on the need for police to be trained in the use of-non-lethal control techniques when dealing with mentally ill subjects. The group is a nonprofit, faith-based organization aimed at social reform.
“It’s not about race, it’s not about race, some people want to make it into a race issue but it’s not about race. The only thing we want is justice,” T.O.P.S. President Jeffrey Danzey told wtvy.com.
“They knew what they were dealing with when they came,” said Kesha Nix, Humphrey’s sister, told BlackAmericaweb.com.
“When the police came, they didn’t try to use any other method for restraining him or stopping him,” she said. The group said it wants police to be trained to control mentally ill suspects without lethal force. “We’re calling on the Alabama Legislature to make changes in the law so that no family in this state has to suffer the tragedy that Patrick Humphrey’s family has suffered,” Glasgow told BlackAmericaweb.com.
Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska told wtvy.com that while he is sending the case to a grand jury, he supports the police handling of the incident. “I want to make sure that the community knows, that the citizens of Houston County know there was a fair review,” he said. “…[But] in my opinion it’s a justifiable shoot.”