Body-Cam Footage Shows Officers Gun Down Mentally Ill Man Holding Screwdriver
Body cam footage has emerged of a June 2014 Dallas police shooting showing officers gunning down a mentally ill man who was holding a screwdriver.
Family say 28-year-old Jason Harrison, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was in need of ‘mental help’ when his mother called police after he began making ‘violent threats.’
Body cam footage shows Dallas police employees knocking on the door of Harrison’s residence before speaking with the man’s mother who can be heard informing the officers of her sons medical conditions.
“He’s just off the chain,” the woman can be heard saying. “Bipolar schizo.”
As Harrison exits the home after his mother, officers spy a screwdriver in his hand.
“Can you drop that for me?” one officer can be heard saying. “Drop it!”
Harrisons mother pleads, “James!” just before the officers open fire, killing the man.
Watch the raw footage(warning graphic):
Police say Harrison lunged at the officers, though that claim cannot be substantiated by the video footage alone, which appears to fail to capture those crucial seconds.
Harrison’s family attorney Geoff Henley, said the video is an example what not to do when dealing with a mentally ill individual.
“When you’re dealing with someone who’s bipolar you don’t agitate [them],” Henley said. “You talk them off the ledge not shove [them] off of it.”
The Harrison family released the footage Monday, as part of a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the department in October.
The suit claims Harrison did not pose a threat, in part because the screwdriver he held was a small one used for computers. “He had never been violent before,” brother Sean Harrison said.
Dallas Police officials determined last year that the actions of the officers did not warrant criminal charges. After the videos release Monday however, the department says it has forwarded the investigation to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office for review.
There are no federal statistics on police shootings of the mentally ill, but according to an investigation published in 2012, a review of available reports indicated that at least half of the estimated 375 to 500 people shot and killed each year by police in the United States have mental health problems.
Harrison was shot five times.