US Supreme Court to Hear Precedent Case on Police Mental Health Interventions

Rob Wipond
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The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the City of San Francisco’s appeal of a case in which “a mentally ill, knife-wielding” woman was allowed to sue police for shooting her instead of waiting for back-up and trying to calm her, reports SF Gate. The case “could set standards for police treatment of the disabled.” And in a separate case, a police officer in Monterey, California was fired for trying to calm a distraught student down instead of using a stun gun on him.

In the upcoming Supreme Court case, “The central issue is how the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires government agencies to make reasonable accommodations for the disabled, applies to police conduct toward a mentally ill person who may be violent,” reports SF Gate.

“Police officers deserve clarity concerning their obligations under federal law, and public safety demands it,” the City Attorney representing the police officers told SF Gate. “We hope the high court reverses the Ninth Circuit’s mistaken decision [in favor of the woman] and restores reasonableness to this area of the law.”

But a lawyer for the woman “said the law must draw distinctions between a mentally ill person who poses a threat to the public — like ‘a person running down the street with a knife’ — and someone confronted by officers while alone in her room, with backup police on their way.”

The Washington Post‘s The Watch blog discusses and provides links to coverage of the Monterey case. “Here at The Watch, we’ve looked extensively at how difficult it can be to fire cops who use excessive force, even when independent bodies have found that they’ve done so on multiple occasions. So what can get a cop fired? In the case of one campus police officer in California, it was his decision to not use force on a possibly suicidal student.”

Supreme Court Takes Case Involving Police Use of Force and the Mentally Ill (Rocky Mountain INews, December 8, 2014)

High court to hear S.F. appeal of ruling in police-shooting suit (SF Gate, November 25, 2014)

Police officer fired for not using force (The Washington Post – The Watch, December 12, 2014)

11 COMMENTS

  1. These problems will continue until police and first responders stop accepting free “training” from the corrupt Big Pharma front group NAMI organization in how to relate to the “mentally ill”.

    NAMI will say that they don’t advocate force and violence, yet they continue to press for expanded rights for the authorities to restrain, confine and forcibly drug citizens in violation of our Constitutional Rights.

  2. “The case “could set standards for police treatment of the disabled.””
    Disabled? How about that should be a standard for police IN GENERAL? What happened to proportionality of response, deescalation techniques etc.? Is being a police officer a license to kill whatever moves because “I was sooo scared he may have a weapon?”
    Police should only use lethal force when there is no other way to stop immediate harm to someone and even then they should try to incapacitate the person and not kill. Plus these days you can shoot tasers in a small distance. and what happened to pepper spray? Is that only for Occupy protesters and black folks in Ferguson?
    This is a sick joke.

  3. Re: But a lawyer for the woman “said the law must draw distinctions between a mentally ill person who poses a threat to the public — like ‘a person running down the street with a knife’ — and someone confronted by officers while alone in her room, with backup police on their way.”

    According to police, 50-year-old Michelle Cusseaux was threatening mental health workers, saying she would show up at the mental health facility where she was supposed to be receiving “treatment” and shoot the workers.

    “Treatment” on MIA we know exactly what that means and if they were calling and harassing this woman I can see where someone might threaten to shoot workers. The dead can’t speak but I think she made those threats in self defense, “leave me alone or ill shoot you”.

    Police say Cusseaux refused to comply with their requests to step outside through a locked security screen door and shut the interior door.

    They then picked the locked on the security door and did a home invasion. That’s when police say Cusseaux flung the interior door open and stood their with a hammer in her hand. After repeated commands to drop the hammer police say she lunged toward the officers.

    One shot was fired, and Cusseaux died. No officers were hurt.

    Basically they broke into this woman’s home and killed her for defending herself .

    When did “protect and serve” turn into hunt down and kill ? The police state is all about protecting its revenue stream, not us.

    December 16, 2014 Elderly man bodyslammed, tased by police over vehicle inspection sticker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt4lu7RiN4E

    Wake up America.

    • Look at this comment from the youtube video

      When a sheeple says “but not all cops are bad” then ask them how often cops get arrested by other cops for doing this shit? It NEVER happens and this is why ALL COPS ARE BAD!

      Tasering a 76 year old man, the police state in America doesn’t care about your life at all, what if that man had a pacemaker or heart condition ?

      He would be dead, then an “investigation” then as usual the police state gets away with murder. Same story over and over again.

      They don’t even need the ‘dangerous mental patient’ excuse to kill you anymore.

    • “Michelle Cusseaux was threatening mental health workers, saying she would show up at the mental health facility where she was supposed to be receiving “treatment” and shoot the workers”
      If she has been on the receiving end of the so-called “treatment” (aka torture – it’s the same word play like calling anal rape “rectal feeding”) then making such threats only proves her sanity. If someone ever tries to drag me into a hospital again or force these torture drugs on me I’ll consider this a deadly threat and act accordingly.
      “Basically they broke into this woman’s home and killed her for defending herself .”
      Yeah, exactly what that was.

  4. This is a very sad case. Your heart wants to go out to this woman. Question for you. It could easily be argued that anyone who commits a crime is mentally ill? What sane person would go into a bank with a gun and rob it? What sane person would kill, rape or maim someone? I worry about people who are so obsessed that civilization is going to collapse that they stock up guns and prepare for the end times. I would like to round up all of these people and give them mental health and say give up your guns civilization is not going to end tomorrow. Charles Manson was a fun loving hippy until he had an end of the world mission. He got tired of waiting so he tried to get it started.
    I help at the Salvation Army, I see many humans living outside, trying to survive the day. They have a variety of serious mental illnesses. Unfortunately it is legal to be crazy. At a time we locked them up in notable places. They were treated worse then animals. We fixed the problem by giving these people a bottle of pills and set them free.

    We can not legally help a severe mentally ill person unless they want help. Let’s be honest most people with a mental illness can live a very normal life with counseling and medication. A small number are unable to cope and live on the streets. We show love and compassion by tossing some money at them. I feel that as a society we must create a dignified place where the severe mentally ill can be forced to go. To be monitored, cared for, helped. Yes some will dismiss it and say it is a jail with pretty wallpaper. That we are taking away their right to choose. Yes, unfortunately some people are unable to do what is best for them. Can we find a balance between homelessness and jail?
    I know it is popular to blame the evil police. Most police are good people. What would you do in their place? If a woman is having delusions threatening with a knife? What would you do? You have a family that you want to go home too. Would you run out, slam the door and wait for someone else to solve the problem? If she kills herself, or someone else, you will be blamed, jailed and sued. Honestly what would you do? Would it be more human to involuntary commit her for life? A place where she can get quality treatment, a clean place to live, good food a chance to live a quality live? You should not blame the police, you should blame yourself for not providing her a safe, wholesome, home and work environment. You may hate the place and call it a jail. But, it is the only place that she can thrive with her individual mental illness.