The DN is out today with an editorial siding with the NYPD in the death of Darrius Kennedy, a knife-wielding man, who was shot by police in Times Square on Sunday. The DN said that it wrong to second-guess the police officers’ actions.
In my NY Post OpEd, I called Mr. Kennedy’s death “suicide by cop” because he seemed a mentally ill man. The DN clearly makes my point that Darrius Kennedy was mentally ill. Because the law permits him to refuse treatment, the doctors at Bellevue had no recourse other than to release him.
A repeat offender with a long history of arrests for marijuana possession and violent public outbursts, Kennedy was clearly a troubled individual. He was even the subject of a call about an emotionally disturbed person in October 2008, after he knocked over trash cans in Times Square. He was taken to Bellevue for observation.
The trauma of killing an emotionally disturbed person (what cops term an EDP) will stay with those officers. Kennedy’s relatives will wonder why they didn’t do more to get him help.
Based on news reports over the years, it seems that pepper spray use by police officers only serves to further enrage EDPs. A shot from a police taser probably could have disarmed Mr. Kennedy and made taking him to custody a difficult but less deadly effort.
Unlike the DN editorial board, I think the NYPD should re-examine their EDP protocols, especially when engaging an EDP wielding a dangerous weapon. Those same officers would not have let Darrius Kennedy jump off the Brooklyn Bridge whether or not he was armed with a knife. Shooting him dead in Times Square is certainly questionable but not criminal.
As I wrote “suicide by cop and imprisonment are rotten substitutes for mental health treatment for our troubled men…”
What do you think about our city’s mental health protocols?