On Mar. 1, the Los Angeles Police Department Protective League — the local union — presented a proposal. The rank-and-file officers desire to limit the types of calls to which they provide a response. Two of those types of calls include mental health and welfare checks. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council approved $1 million to create the Office of Unarmed Response and Safety. Maybe some lives will be saved in the future, but nothing was able to save former Detroit Lions defensive back Stanley Wilson Jr. who died in February 2023 while in police custody.
Wilson had been having mental issues for some time now, according to family attorney John Carpenter. In August 2022, Wilson had been arrested on a trespassing charge but was deemed incompetent to stand trial. Carpenter claims that Wilson had been showing signs of suffering from CTE.
Wilson’s first run-in with the law was in Portland in 2016. Wilson pleaded no contest to attempted first-degree burglary when he allegedly stripped naked and tried to climb into the window of an elderly man’s home and was shot. He also pleaded no contest to first-degree burglary for breaking into a home in that same neighborhood, that same day. Wilson allegedly poured a cocktail, stole a book, and then vacated the premises. The prosecutor in the case stated that Wilson pleaded no contest because he claimed that at the time of the incidents, he was “not quite there. Wilson was sentenced to 10 days in jail, time already served.
No official cause of death, but family alleges foul play
There has been no official cause of death issued yet for Wilson. His parents claim that there were “ligature marks” and fresh wounds on their son’s body. They are suing Los Angeles County for $45 million in damages. LA County spokesperson Jesus Ruiz did comment on the case when questioned by the Los Angeles Times.
“L.A. County offers its sincere condolences to Mr. Wilson and his family,” is all the comment that Ruiz provided. The family that he is referring to includes former Cincinnati Bengals running back Stanley Wilson Sr.
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The new year began with three men allegedly suffering from mental health issues dying following altercations with LAPD. Takar Smith was shot to death by law enforcement on Jan. 2. His wife needed help on a restraining order violation. However, she did warn police that her husband was schizophrenic and had not been taking his medication. No mental health professionals were sent with police in response to that call.
On Jan. 3, Keenan Anderson and Oscar Sanchez lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement. Anderson was approached because of potential involvement in a hit-and-run accident. He first cooperated and then fled. Per the Associated Press, body camera footage shows one officer’s elbow into Anderson’s neck and a forearm into his chest. Anderson was tasered in that position and died less than five hours later.
Sanchez died after police were called to a scene in which he was accused of throwing metal objects at cars. Per Fox 11 LA, the police body camera footage begins when they find Sanchez near an abandoned building. He was holding a metal pipe and officers told him to relinquish it. He left and they chased after him. Very shortly after an officer exclaimed, “put that down!” Sanchez was shot with both lethal and non-lethal ammunition. He died later that day.
Few issues are more complicated than mental health. A finger-pointed starboard is a clear indication that it is broken. An MRI was taken of Edwin Diaz’s knee that determined he suffered a torn patellar tendon on Wednesday. The process for the repair of those injuries is standard. However, what rehab is necessary for a person’s brain? Also, how does a person with mental health problems maintain the cognizance to take every step? People don’t want to take medicine for a variety of ailments. What happens when that mindset is inside a person, with a mindset that is in serious need of medicinal treatment?
This a complicated issue that at face value Los Angeles appears to be making an effort to address. Tragically though, it’s too little too late for Smith, Anderson, Sanchez, and Wilson Jr.