The district attorney has ruled that the Santa Rosa police shooting of an unarmed man suffering a mental health crisis was justified. Richard DeSantis ignored orders to lie down on his driveway and kept advancing even after his arm was broken by a plastic projectile fired at him by police, according to a press release issued Friday.
We’re planning to write this week about the report and about the shootings of two other mentally-disturbed individuals by local law enforcement officers in the past 14 months. As we talked about those cases this morning, the conversation didn’t focus on whether the officers were justified. We haven’t seen evidence to the contrary. But we also haven’t seen much evidence at all. The DeSantis decision was announced in a Friday afternoon press release. The ruling in the case of Jeremiah Chass, a mentally-disturbed teenager shot to death by sheriff’s deputies, also was announced by press release, following a standard pattern for local officer-involved shootings.
We wondered this morning whether police and prosecutors should do more with their findings than issue a press release. How about releasing the full report and making a presentation to the Board of Supervisors or a city council, with an opportunity to ask questions?
Do you think this approach would give people greater confidence that police officers and sheriff’s deputies are properly trained and as well prepared for situations involving people suffering mental breakdowns as they are for more traditional crime scenes?
– Jim Sweeney