The parents of a man shot and killed in a police-involved shooting last July says the way police handle mental health crises needs to change.
“We need to get these people help. Not confrontation,” said Sean Brown’s father Lester Brown.
Moments before the shooting took place, Sean Brown was fighting with his girlfriend who dialed 911 while driving a car down Nanaimo’s Haliburton Street.
While on the phone with the dispatcher, Sean Brown’s girlfriend repeatedly told the operator that he was suffering a mental health break.
“The RCMP knew there was a person in crisis. His girlfriend told them that, they told them he needed help, that he needed to go to the hospital,” Lester Brown said.
He points out how she also told them that he had a phony pellet gun.
“Did the officer know that? Did that get passed on to him? We don’t know. There’s so many things we don’t know,” he added.
In a report released Wednesday, the police watchdog, the IIO concluded the responding officer was not criminally responsible for taking Brown’s life and was justified in his use of deadly force. But the lead of the IIO also says there needs to be change with the increasing number of shootings by police officers of people in mental health crises.
“It is a big issue for us in oversight. It shows up in many of our cases and the question is are we doing enough as a society in British Columbia and Canada in general. Are we doing a good enough job helping persons with either mental wellness issues or addictions issues and I’ve come to a conclusion unfortunately that we’re not,” said the IIO’s Chief Civilian Director, Ronald MacDonald.
So Shirley Brown is pleading for more funding for those dealing with mental health issues, and mental health workers to accompany RCMP on calls like her son’s. To stop the same violent, and she believes preventable ending from happening again.