On January 14, 2017, 36-year-old Jaron Thomas called for help, as he had done several times before by the advice of mental health professionals. Jaron had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and struggled with hallucinations. He was a gifted hip-hop lyricist, having at one point worked with well-known artist Bizzy-Bone. He knew that he needed help and had calmly asked for a medic on the 911 call obtained by the family. He expected to be admitted for treatment, in his home town of Columbus, Ohio, but the response he received instead was from officers with the Columbus Police Department. It is unclear what transpired, but the result was inexplicable injuries and brain damage.
Surrounded by his close-knit family and a host of loved ones and friends, this loving father of 3 fought for his life. He lost the battle on January 23rd, roughly one week after his brutal and tragic encounter with police. Click here for official press release from the family’s legal team Walton + Brown, LLP, who is also representing others looking for answers from CPD (including the families of Henry Green and Tyre King).
According to experts and an article in The Washington Post, “Distraught People, Deadly Results,” officers often lack the training to approach the mentally unstable. “This a national crisis,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, an independent research organization devoted to improving policing. “We have to get American police to rethink how they handle encounters with the mentally ill. Training has to change.”
In addition to the lack of training, policies around how police report these incidents are loose and don’t paint an adequate picture of the widespread nature of this issue.