Police Abuse

Fatal NYPD Shooting Reveals Weak Policies, Ineffective Discipline

Emotionally disturbed man shot and killed before any trained professionals could arrive.

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Police in Brooklyn shot and killed Dwayne Jeune after his mother had called 911 for help for her son, who reportedly had a history of mental illness.

The officers did not appear to follow NYPD procedures, NYC civil rights activist Keegan Stephan noted, and at least one of them, Miguel Gonzales, was involved in a similar shooting a year ago without receiving appropriate additional training in its aftermath.

NYPD Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan said the officers first tried a stun gun to shoot the 32-year-old Jeune, who they say was brandishing a carving knife. The "incident unraveled within seconds of the officers entering," Monahan said.

The cops involved in the shooting appear to have entered the apartment before such back up arrived, and police say none of them were trained to deal with emotionally disturbed people. A 2013 directive on mentally and emotionally disturbed persons calls on officers to create a 20-foot "zone of safety" around such persons and to summon trained professionals for assistance.

"This is now at least the third person in emotional distress killed by the NYPD within less than a year, and at least the ninth during the de Blasio administration," Carolyn Martinez-Class, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, said in a statement. "It is also troubling that the officer who killed Jeune, Miguel Gonzalez, is the same officer who shot Davonte Pressley three times less than a year ago, in an incident that community members questioned as excessive in responding to someone in emotional distress."

Gonzalez shot the 23-year-old Pressley last October. Police officiials claimed Pressley lunged at officers with a knife. Authorities eventually charged Pressley with attempted assault on a police officer. Gonzales, meanwhile, sought medical care for a ringing in his ear.

The department didn't require Gonzales get any additional training after the Pressley shooting. The department also said none of the officers who responded to the 911 call from Jeune's mother had been trained to deal with emotionally disturbed persons, although she described him as such in her call.

"If the de Blasio administration has made mental health issues a priority, it is perplexing why the NYPD continues to be the first responder to these calls," the Martinez-Class statement read, "and recurring fatal responses by the NYPD to those in emotional distress is not being addressed with the seriousness required to prevent these killings."

In addition to training for dealing with emotionally disturbed persons, maybe the officers ought to also get additional firearms training—at least one of the five shots Gonzales fired went through the wall of an occupied apartment next door, hitting a bottle of seltzer water.

NYPD officers have among the most comprehensive employment protections of any law enforcement in the country. Even if there was the political will to remove officers like Gonzales after controversial shootings, it is nearly impossible to do so. Meaningful discipline is nearly impossible to impose.

Without a way to police their own enforcement, the policies NYPD crafts for itself are meaningless.

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  1. Police in Brooklyn shot and killed Dwayne Jeune after his mother had called 911 for help for her son, who reportedly had a history of mental illness.

    Coulda ended the article right there. No shit they shot and killed him, that’s what they do when you call the cops on potentially dangerous people. If you don’t know this by now, you’re being willfully ignorant and I’m just about all out of fucks to give about it. Don’t call the cops unless you want somebody to die and you don’t much care if it’s you.

    1. Most people naturally defer to authority figures, which cops are, and don’t question them. That is the human condition for the majority of people.

  2. . . . before any trained professionals could arrive.

    I’m confused. The *police* were there. I am assured that they are highly trained professionals – so highly trained that they take the constitutional rights of citizens seriously, that merely internal discipline is enough and there’s no need for ‘excessive’ oversight – so highly trained that a lot of people believe they should be the only ones with access to legal firearms.

    I am assured of this.

  3. A 2013 directive on mentally and emotionally disturbed persons calls on officers to create a 20-foot “zone of safety” around such persons and to summon trained professionals for assistance.

    This sounds like a hilarious portmanteau of the Tueller Drill and a Polish Firing Squad. Too bad it wasn’t implemented as such.

  4. Police are the first responders in many medical emergencies, because they can get there more quickly and the EMTs will not enter an unsafe scene. Their job is usually limited to keeping the place safe and, if necessary, doing CPR or giving oxygen until the EMTs show up. Any psychiatric emergency starts with police talking to the patient before the EMT does.

    1. Any psychiatric emergency starts with police talking to the patient before the EMT does.

      In this particular instance, can you give us a reference/link to the discussions that the first responders/police had with their eventual victim?
      Please note that I am not asking you to provide the negotiations/de-escelating/”calming down” procedures used by other law enforcement personnel who killed or wounded other “emotionally disturbed” citizens. It is only this sad event.

      1. “can you give us a reference/link to the discussions that the first responders/police had”

        “put that fucking knife down!” (end of discussion)

    2. And ends with the police shooting him before the EMT does?

    3. The officers did not appear to follow NYPD procedures,

  5. Time for a Mad Live Matter protest.

  6. I guess it’s true that ’emotional distress’ is a lot nicer sounding than homicidally insane, but at the same time it’s NYC so the only conclusion I came away with is that the officers were trying to shoot the woman. She should probably be more thankful.

    /sarc

  7. Miguel Gonzales

    White hispanic?

  8. “A 2013 directive on mentally and emotionally disturbed persons calls on officers to create a 20-foot “zone of safety” around such persons and to summon trained professionals for assistance.”

    Yeah, right! Anyone in New York that can afford to live in a place with 20 foot rooms can afford therapy. A lot of those NY apartments don’t have twenty foot hallways!

    Of course, if the cops had stayed out of the apartment until backup arrived, and Mr. Whacko had carved up the family, there would be the other outcry of procedures trumping public safety.

    Final thought – If a bunch of guys with guns bust into my house, I will instantly become ’emotionally disturbed’

  9. Sounds like simple retraining will wipe this mistake right away.

    1. What mistake? The police department has yet to admit to any wrongdoing.

  10. Stun gun? If he was a white schizo brandishing a knife the cops would have gone straight for their sidearms.

  11. This is now at least the third person in emotional distress killed by the NYPD within less than a year

    Given the size of both the NYPD and the population they “serve” this seems below average. It’s been SOP for police everywhere to shoot and kill mentally disturbed people with knives, even if they’re only threatening to hurt themselves, for decades now. I believe this is a by-product of the new professionalism and gender equality. In the bad old days some buzz cut ex-HS football player would just wack the nutjob with a club. We can’t have that sort of violence now and many officers are not capable of delivering it so they’re just trained to kill.

  12. That wretched show?Blue Bloods?does all of us a massive disservice by being nothing but an hour long, weekly lie. Copping everywhere will never get better until awful stuff like this is killed off.

    Selleck should be ashamed of himself.

  13. Police in Brooklyn shot and killed Dwayne Jeune after his mother had called 911 for help for her son

    I love these kafkaesque stories of people calling for help with some mentally ill person, often suicidal, only to have the cops kill them. Reality as black humor.

    Got rid of his mental illness.

    Problem solved! Good shoot!

    A 2013 directive on mentally and emotionally disturbed persons calls on officers to create a 20-foot “zone of safety” around such persons and to summon trained professionals for assistance.

    That’s something, at least. An actual policy tailored to the problem. The wheels of sanity grind ever so slowly.

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