A vitally important new analysis from the Washington Post found that one-quarter of the people shot dead by police this year—123 out of 461—were mentally ill or emotionally distraught. The Post found, too, that more than half of the killings involved police agencies whose officers weren’t properly trained in dealing with mentally ill people. The officers were frequently not responding to reports of a crime, but because bystanders or loved ones saw the person behaving erratically or feared they were suicidal.

From their analysis of this disturbing subset of police shooting victims:

In many ways, [it] mirrors the overall population of police shooting victims: They were overwhelmingly men, more than half of them white. Nine in 10 were armed with some kind of weapon, and most died close to home.

But there were also important distinctions. This group was more likely to wield a weapon less lethal than a firearm. Six had toy guns; 3 in 10 carried a blade, such as a knife or a machete — weapons that rarely prove deadly to police officers. According to data maintained by the FBI and other organizations, only three officers have been killed with an edged weapon in the past decade.

Nearly a dozen of the mentally distraught people killed were military veterans, many of them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their service, according to police or family members. Another was a former California Highway Patrol officer who had been forced into retirement after enduring a severe beating during a traffic stop that left him suffering from depression and PTSD.

And in 45 cases, police were called to help someone get medical treatment, or after the person had tried and failed to get treatment on his own.

The whole story is up here.


Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.
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