Independence officers receive crisis training after suicidal man is shot, killed

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - A family called 911 to help a loved one who was armed and threatening suicide. Police were unable to de-escalate the situation and the man is ultimately shot and killed after officers say he pointed a gun at them.

It's known in the mental health community as "suicide by cop". 

RELATED: Independence police shoot, kill armed, suicidal man

Susan Crane Lewis is the CEO of Mental Health America of the Heartland. When it come to mental health calls to police, she believes co-responders should be involved to help save lives.

Susan Crane Lewis is the CEO of Mental Health America of the Heartland. When it come to mental health calls to police, she believes co-responders should be involved to help save lives.

"You have a trained mental health professional who goes along on those calls when dispatch learns this is a person in psychiatric crisis. A social worker is dispatched along with law enforcement," said Crane Lewis.

Independence Police identified the shooting victim as 50-year-old Carlos Cruz of Independence, but they would not talk about the active investigation into his death.

They did tell 41 Action News that they started using crisis intervention team (CIT) training back in 2001 to better serve people with mental illnesses. A topic city council members discussed during a study session on Monday night.

Officer David Abraham is the department's only full-time crisis intervention officer. He moderated the discussion on how they train to better serve citizens with mental illnesses. And the affect it has on their workload.

"In a matter of one month we dealt with 3 different individuals that accounted for more than 200 calls to the 911 system, thus overwhelming the system," said Abraham.

Mental health professionals and police agree that far too often those suffering from mental illness end up in police custody, instead of receiving the help they desperately need. 

The Independence Police Department will continue CIT training with officers and hope to add another full-time CIT officer to their department.

-----

 

Lisa Benson can be reached at lisa.benson@kshb.com.

Follow her on Twitter 

Connect on Facebook

Print this article Back to Top