Dallas police shoot, kill mentally ill man; community in shock

Dallas police shoot, kill mentally ill man; community in shock

POSTED: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 11:24am

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 11:27am

By Elyssa Lassiter

DALLAS (KDAF) -- An Oak Cliff mentally ill man is dead and a stunned neighborhood is picking up the pieces.

"The mailman come right there and said they shot the guy around the corner and gave me my mail," neighbor Benjamin Edwards said. "He just said it was the boy that walks up and down the street all the time."

He's talking about 38-year-old Jason Harrison. His mother called 911 for help on Saturday. Her bipolar, schizophrenic son was apparently off his medication. When Dallas Police arrived, Harrison came out with a screwdriver. According to police reports, the two responding officers opened fire on Harrison because they felt threatened. Harrison's mother witnessed the deadly shooting.

The incident has rattled the community.

"He was alright," Edwards said. "He didn't bother nobody that I know of."

Cynthia J. Clinton, a licensed professional counselor, works with people living with mental health issues.

"Typically people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia cannot think clearly and process information accurately, so they think people are out to get them," Clinton said.

"It's very difficult for police to separate the mental ill person from the not mental ill person."

The department confirmed both officers attended a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training course that "focuses on recognition, de-escalation and interaction with people with illnesses or disabilities."

Yet, Clinton said unless the individual is a threat to themselves or others, no one can force them to get help if they're 18-years old or older.

A similar case happened last October, when Bobby Bennett, a mentally ill man, was killed outside his mother's home. In that case, the firing officer lost his job and was indicted by a Dallas County grand jury.

"Seemed like they could've done something different; shot him with a stun gun or something," Edwards said about Harrison's case.

The Dallas officers were wearing body cameras. The addition of the technology was a direct result from the Bennett incident.

Investigators are reviewing the footage now, and the tapes won't lie. 

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