TIME Crime

U.S. Police Killed Someone in Mental or Emotional Crisis Every 36 Hours This Year, Report Says

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In most cases, police were called not because of a crime but by a concerned bystander or loved one

Reporting released by the Washington Post on June 30 depicts an apparently stark reality when it comes to confrontations between police and people with mental illness in the U.S. The article draws from the newspaper’s tracking of every fatal police shooting in the country in the first six moths of 2015 — 462 in all — to present an in-depth look at those confrontations involving disturbed or distressed individuals.

During that time, police killed someone in mental or emotional crisis every 36 hours, including three men within 10 hours on April 25, the Post reports.

In most of those cases, the paper says, officers were not called to the scene because of reports of a crime but were rather responding to concerned bystanders or loved ones. Out of the 124 shootings examined in the report, 50 involved explicitly suicidal individuals. In 45 cases, police were explicitly asked for medical assistance or called after the individual had attempted to get medical assistance elsewhere. Nearly a dozen of those killed were veterans, and several suffered from PTSD.

Many of the responsible police agencies do not train their officers adequately to deal with distressed people, the article concludes. According to the Police Executive Research Forum, officers in training spend up to 60 hours learning to handle a gun and only eight hours each learning to neutralize taut situations and interact with mentally ill individuals. In fact, many of the tactics learned in training, such as shouting commands, can worsen the situation for already fragile people.

“This a national crisis,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told the Post. “We have to get American police to rethink how they handle encounters with the mentally ill. Training has to change.”

Read more at the Washington Post

TIME Accident

Nine Dead in Plane Crash on Alaska Cliff

Alaska-Missing Plane
Taylor Balkram—AP The Holland America Line cruise ship Westerdam sits in dock in Ketchikan, Alaska, on June 25, 2015

The conditions of those on board weren't immediately known

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) — All nine people aboard a sightseeing plane died in crash Thursday in southeast Alaska, authorities said, but stormy weather was preventing the immediate recovery of the bodies.

“We have nine fatalities,” said Clint Johnson, head of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Alaska office.

Rain and wind forced an end to recovery efforts Thursday night in the rugged terrain about 20 miles northeast of Ketchikan. Officials would mount a recovery attempt again on Friday, he said.

There was no immediate indication of why the DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter turboprop crashed. It was found Thursday against the granite rock face of a cliff, 800 feet above Ella Lake.

Johnson said it was too soon to know circumstances of the crash, including whether the plane flew into the cliff.

The NTSB was assembling a high-level team to investigate the crash, including three members from Alaska and at least two people from Washington, D.C.

“The initial rescue crew that went in had a very tough time because of the terrain,” Johnson said. “It’s a very steep, mountainous area, and weather conditions caused them to stand down.’

Coast Guard Petty Officer Lauren Steenson said the agency received a report around 2:15 p.m. that the plane was overdue. Troopers said an emergency locator transmitter activated in the Misty Fjords National Monument, and a helicopter pilot spotted the downed aircraft above Ella Lake, about 800 miles southeast of Anchorage.

Promech Air, an airline based in Ketchikan, operated the shore excursion sold through Holland America Line, the cruise ship company said in a statement. The eight passengers were guests on the Westerdam, which is on a seven-day cruise that departed Seattle on Saturday.

“We are incredibly distressed by this situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with those onboard the plane and their families,” the statement said. “Holland America Line is extending its full support to traveling companions of the guests involved.”

Promech said that the crash happened about 11:20 a.m., and the plane was one of five Otter aircraft in its fleet.

“There is nothing I can say that can alleviate the pain and overwhelming sense of loss that we and the loved ones of those affected are feeling,” Marcus Sessoms, president of Promech Air, said in a statement. “At this moment, all of us share the pain and anguish of this terrible event. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to everyone touched by this tragedy.”

The Ketchikan Daily News reported the Westerdam had been scheduled to leave the city at 1 p.m., but it remained in port Thursday evening.

The airline’s website advertises tours of the 2-million-acre Misty Fjord National Monument in its float planes.

“Towering granite cliffs, 1,000-foot waterfalls, lush and remote valleys and serene crystalline lakes make up this incredible landscape,” it says.

___

Associated Press writer Kathy McCarthy in Seattle contributed to this report.

TIME South Carolina

Hundreds Attend First Funeral for Charleston Shooting Victims

US-SHOOTING-CHARLESTON
Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images Pallbearer release doves over the casket holding Emanuel AME Church shooting victim Ethel Lance during her burial at the Emanuel AME Church Cemetery in Charleston, S.C., on June 25, 2015.

The first funeral was for 70-year-old Ethel Lance, who served as a sexton at the church

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A choir and band launched into one of Ethel Lance’s favorite gospel tunes and roused hundreds of mourners from their seats Thursday in a crescendo of music at the first funeral for victims of the massacre at a historic black church.

People stood to clap, nod and sway — some closing their eyes under the exertion of the cathartic singing. Ushers walked through the aisles with boxes of tissues for people to dab their tears as an organ, drums and bass guitar played along.

The service was fitting for the 70-year-old Charleston native with “an infectious smile.” She served with vigor as an officer at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, said the church’s interim leader, the Rev. Norvel Goff.

“When it was time for the ushers to usher, she had the usher strut,” Goff said. “When sister Lance praised the Lord, you had to strap on your spiritual seat belt.”

Police officers stood guard and checked bags as mourners filed in for the funeral, which was held as the debate over the Confederate flag and other Old South symbols continued. A monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis had the phrase “Black Lives Matter” spray-painted on it Thursday in Richmond, Virginia, the latest of several monuments to be defaced around the country.

Lance and eight other Emanuel church members were killed when police say a gunman walked into a Bible study June 17 and opened fire in a racially motived attack.

Lance served as a sexton at Emanuel for the last five years, helping to keep the historic building clean, and she loved gospel music. She had five children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“I want my grandmother’s legacy to be what she stood for,” said granddaughter Aja Risher. “She is going to be a catalyst for change in this country.”

Services for Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, were held Thursday afternoon, and funerals for the other victims were set to happen over the next week, including one Friday for the church pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

As the two victims were laid to rest, the debate over Confederate symbols and statues raged on. In Richmond, where the Davis statue was vandalized, a small group from the Southern heritage advocacy group Virginia Flaggers waved Confederate Flags next to the monument.

Barry Isenhour, a member of the group, said they were offering a $1,500 reward for tips that led to the conviction of those responsible for the spray painting.

Some people in cars driving by honked in support of the Virginia Flaggers. Others yelled obscenities at the group.

While the group was there, 20-year-old Caleb Pollard ran around it, shirtless with American flag-themed leggings and underwear. He wore an American flag as a cape and pointed to it, asking the group: “Why don’t you raise this flag?”

In Memphis, Tennessee, the mayor there said he thinks the grave and statue of Confederate General and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest should be removed from a city park.

The suspected gunman, Dylann Storm Roof, had a Confederate license plate, and images on a website created in his name months before the attacks show him posing with the flag and burning and desecrating the U.S. flag. He also poses at Confederate museums, former slave plantations and slave graves.

Boyd Young, who represents Roof’s family, issued a statement on their behalf saying that they would answer questions later but wanted to allow the victims’ families to grieve.

“We feel it would be inappropriate to say anything at this time other than that we are truly sorry for their loss,” the statement said.

Gov. Nikki Haley started the groundswell against Confederate icons Monday by successfully calling on South Carolina lawmakers to debate taking down the Confederate battle flag flying in front of the Statehouse. Then Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, also a conservative Republican, brought down four secessionist flags at the Capitol there. He compared the banner to the universally shunned symbols of Nazi Germany, a stunning reversal in a region where the Confederacy was formed 154 years ago and where Jefferson Davis was elected president.

At Lance’s funeral, a family friend said she was glad to see so many states taking action.

“Knowing the tragedy that happened, with the young man holding the flag up, it’s time for it to come down,” said Alexis Mouzon, who went to high school with Lance’s daughter.

___

Meg Kinnard in Charleston; Seanna Adcox, Jeffrey Collins, Susanne M. Schafer and Jack Jones in Columbia; Kim Chandler in Hackleburg, Alabama; Martin Swant in Montgomery, Alabama; and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

TIME tragedy

Mourners Pay Respects to Clementa Pinckney at South Carolina Statehouse

Clementa Pinckney Wake State House
Win McNamee—Getty Images Visitors pay their respects during an open viewing for Rev. Clementa Pinckney at the South Carolina State House in Columbia, S.C. on June 24, 2015.

A week after he and eight others were killed in a church shooting in Charleston

Hundreds of mourners lined up to view the Rev. Clementa Pinckney’s open casket on Wednesday, under the dome of the South Carolina statehouse, a week after he and eight others were fatally shot at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

A horse-drawn carriage and nine state troopers delivered the casket to the statehouse floor, where mourners could file through to pay their respects, the Post and Courier reports. Those who attended were greeted by colleagues of Pinckney, who was the lead pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and a state senator, as well as his widow and two young daughters.

Pinckney is the first African American to lie in state under the statehouse dome since at least the Reconstruction era, according to the Associated Press. Though a Confederate flag still flies in front of the complex, a black drape had been placed over a second-floor window to prevent mourners from seeing it.

TIME South Carolina

What Unity Looks Like in Charleston

The city of Charleston has put aside anger and resentment after the horrific shooting at a black church last week, instead responding with incredible public displays of emotion, compassion, love, and unity

TIME tragedy

Charleston Shooting Victim’s Son Says Love Is Stronger Than Hate

Chris Singleton says he can forgive his mother's killer

The teenage son of Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, one of the nine people killed in a shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C. Wednesday night, spoke Thursday about the loss of his mother.

Chris Singleton, a student at Charleston Southern University and an outfielder for the school’s baseball team, spoke to reporters from the team’s baseball diamond Thursday night. He called his mother a “God-fearing woman” who loved everyone. Coleman-Singleton was a minister at Emanuel AME Church, the church that was attacked, as well as a speech pathologist and a track coach at a local high school.

“Love is always stronger than hate,” Chris Singleton said. “If we just love the way my Mom would, the hate won’t be anywhere close to what love is.”

Singleton also told NBC affiliate WCBD that he would forgive Dylann Roof, the killer of the nine churchgoers.

TIME Crime

Former Classmate Describes Charleston Shooting Suspect as ‘Different’ With a ‘Wild Side’

"It never, never crossed my mind that he would go out and murder all those people like that"

John Mullins, a former classmate of alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, told CNN Thursday that Roof was “different” to his peers, both quiet and with “kind of a wild side to him, too, where there’s that sort of carelessness about things.”

However, he added, “It never, never crossed my mind that he would go out and murder all those people like that.”

Mullins also told CNN that he and Roof shared mutual black friends with whom Roof sometimes would “sh-t talk,” cracking jokes back and forth. “He would make kind of racist slurs as jokes, but they were never taken seriously in any form or manner,” Mullins said.

However, photos of Roof wearing a jacket decorated with patches associated with white supremacists surfaced quickly after he was taken into custody Thursday. And a survivor of Wednesday’s massacre has reported that Roof said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country and you have to go” when one of the young men he allegedly killed was begging for his life.

[CNN]

TIME Crime

How a Local Florist Helped to Catch Charleston Shooting Suspect Dylann Roof

Charleston Shooting
Gabe Whisnant—AP Todd Frady, left, and Debbie Dills of Frady's Florist in Kings Mountain, N.C., pose for a photo after Dills called in the tip that ultimately led to the arrest of Dylann Storm Roof, on June 18, 2015

Debbie Dills said something about Roof's car "didn't look right to me"

After a tragic night and a tense 14-hour search, alleged Charleston shooter Dylann Roof was taken into custody Thursday in Shelby, N.C., nearly 250 miles away from the city where police say he killed nine people during a prayer meeting.

But the 21-year-old was only apprehended thanks to a tip from local florist Debbie Dills, who spotted a car matching the description released by police as she drove to work on Thursday, CNN reports.

“I saw the pictures of him with the bowl cut,” Dills told the Shelby Star. “I said, ‘I’ve seen that car for some reason.’ I look over, and it’s got a South Carolina tag on it.”

She told the paper she was convinced the car was just a lookalike until she saw the driver’s haircut. That was when she called her boss, Todd Frady, for support. He contacted the local police and remained on the phone with Dills as she trailed the car, hoping to confirm the license plate was a match. Once she had verified the plate number at a stoplight, the police arrived within minutes.

Dills is the minister of music at the West Cramerton Baptist Church and told the Star she had been praying for the victims in Charleston. “Those people were in their church just trying to learn the word of God,” she said.

She gave credit to a higher power for her role in the arrest. “It was God that made this happen,” she told CNN. “It don’t have nothing to do with Debbie. It don’t have nothing to do with Todd. It was all about Him. He made this happen. He answered the prayers of those people that were praying in Charleston last night, that were in those circles praying. God heard the prayers of the people and he just used us as vessels to get his work done.”

[CNN]

TIME tragedy

Here’s How You Can Help the Families of the Charleston Shooting Victims

Nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., including senior pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney, were shot and killed Wednesday evening in what is being investigated as a hate crime

In the wake of the shooting at a historically black Charleston, S.C. church that left nine people dead Wednesday evening, the city is collecting money to support the victims’ families.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley announced the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund Thursday and said the city has already pledged $5,000. The fund will help the victims’ relatives pay for funerals for their loved ones, counseling services and other needs as they heal from the tragedy.

The website for contributions to this fund is expected to be functioning by noon on Friday. Those wishing to contribute will also be able to do so at any Wells Fargo branch by specifying that they’d like to donate to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund.

In the meantime, the fund will be accepting checks made out to “Mother Emanuel Hope Fund” at the following address:

Mother Emanuel Hope Fund

C/O City of Charleston

P.O. Box 304

Charleston, SC 29402

 

TIME tragedy

Teen Daughter of Queen of Versailles Stars Found Dead

Gene Page—Getty Images The Siegel family

So far, the coroner has not ruled on a cause of death

The 18-year-old daughter of Queen of Versailles stars David and Jackie Siegel was found unresponsive Saturday in their home in Windermere, Florida, according to officials.

Victoria Siegel was discovered at 2:05 p.m. by deputies at her family’s mansion on Green Island Cove and taken to the Health Central Hospital where she was pronounced dead. So far, the coroner has not ruled on a cause of death.

“It is a sad case, ” Orange County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jeff Williamson tells PEOPLE.

In a Facebook post Jackie acknowledged her daughter’s death, stating: “It is with great sadness that we ask you to respect our privacy during this tragic time and the loss of our beloved daughter, Victoria. Thank you all for your prayers and for your support. As more information comes out the family will share it, until that time there is no comment.”

 

Victoria’s father, David, is the founder of Westgate Resorts, which is the largest timeshare company in the world. David and Jackie were featured in a 2012 documentary, Queen of Versailles that chronicled their financial struggles as they built a 90,000 square foot palace they dubbed, the Versailles House.

Recently, the billionaire couple, who have eight children, appeared on ABC’sCelebrity Wife Swap where Jackie switched places with actress Juliet Reeves London, wife of Party of Five actor Jeremy London.

This article originally appeared on People.

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