IN Police Kill Mentally Ill Man; Should They Have Had Non-Lethal Weapons?


Christopher Goodlow of Indianapolis was not a career criminal; his only conviction was for trespassing at a gas station. Still, his life was ended by police officers on Dec. 12 at the age of 25. The Indianapolis Star says that for those who have watched online video of his final moments, surrounded by police, armed with a knife and lunging at officers, it’s hard to find fault with the officers who eventually shot and killed him. It’s difficult to watch Goodlow standing among the officers, clothed only in his boxer shorts and clearly struggling from some kind of crisis. He suffered from schizophrenia, family told investigators.

The standoff with Goodlow underscores the challenges officers face in confronting individuals suffering from a mental health crisis and serves as a bleak reminder of how some people with mental illness will be killed by police. The death also highlights a question: Should more officers gain access to more non-lethal weapons? “He’s obviously suffering a crisis,” said Jim Bueermann of the Police Foundation, who watched the video. “You don’t know what he’s going to do. The officers have to keep him away from bystanders.” While Bueermann, a former California police chief, said officers appeared to handle the situation as well as they could with their available tools, he questioned why they didn’t have access to other less-than-lethal technologies besides stun guns, like pepper ball guns and bean bag rounds. “Are we giving our officers all the tools they need to try to resolve something as peacefully as possible?,” he asks.

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