Supreme Court To Rule On Police Compliance With Disabilities Law


This month’s police shooting in Georgia of a naked, unarmed man with bipolar disorder is an example of the rising number of violent confrontations between police and the mentally ill, reports the Associated Press. The issue is going before the Supreme Court. At least half the people police kill have mental health problems, says a report from the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs’ Association. On Monday, the high court considers how police must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act when dealing with armed or violent people with psychiatric problems or other disabilities.

The case involves a 2008 incident in San Francisco when police responded to a call from a group home for the mentally ill. A resident who suffers from schizophrenia, Teresa Sheehan, threatened to kill her social worker with a knife and locked herself in her room. The social worker asked the police to help restrain Sheehan and get her to a hospital. Officers forced their way into Sheehan’s room and filed shots after she charged them with the knife. She survived and filed a lawsuit, claiming police had a duty under the ADA to consider her mental illness and take more steps to avoid a violent confrontation. San Francisco officials argue the law does not require police to make accommodations for an armed and violent suspect who is mentally ill.

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