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.