The Mental Health Association in Michigan

is the only statewide, non-governmental agency concerned with the broad spectrum of mental illness across all age groups.

January 10, 2019

Justifiable? Police-involved shootings & mental illness go hand-in-hand

Todd Stone called 911 and confessed an urge to “blast the whole block up.”

“Depressed, highly intoxicated and suicidal,” according to police reports and the 911 recording, the 48-year-old cancer patient would eventually tell the dispatcher he had no intention of hurting anyone but himself.

Minutes later, he was shot to death by police inside his mother’s Oak Park home as he approached them carrying a hatchet.

Oak Park Police Chief Steve Cooper said his officer acted appropriately in the December 2017 incident, and there was no reason to revise tactics.

Stone’s mother, Margie Stone, argues police had options.

“My son should not be dead,” she said. “There’s any number of ways it could have been handled other than him being shot three times.”

One thing that is clear, based on an MLive review of police deaths in the last 20 years, and police killings of civilians in the last five years: Mental illness plays a significant role in deadly law enforcement encounters.

Of 87 people killed by police in Michigan the past five years, 33 of them, 38 percent, had been diagnosed with, were treated for or exhibited clear signs of mental illness.

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