The Los Angeles Times profiles Kanuri Qawi, who is charged with the stabbing death killing of his roommate. After he was arrested, police quickly realized that Qawi, 46, was suffering from delusions. What they didn’t know that day was how long and hard he had fought for the right to have them. Qawi was a notorious figure in California mental hospitals. His nine-year legal battle had taken him all the way to the state Supreme Court, where he had won the right – for himself and hundreds of other mental patients – to refuse to take the psychiatric drugs prescribed by doctors.
His case was a seminal chapter in the campaign to modernize mental health treatment and give patients more control over their bodies. And in key ways, it helped transform California’s mental hospitals, with a growing number of patients rejecting their drugs, suffering psychotic breaks and lashing out in violence.