A Dallas County grand jury has cleared two police officers who shot and killed a man in his own doorway, despite the fact that video footage does not corroborate the police report of why they killed him.
38-year-old schizophrenia sufferer Jason Harrison was killed last year by police within 30 seconds of them knocking on his front door.
Warning: Graphic video.
Harrison’s mother called the cops because her son had harmed himself and was in need of medical attention.
When the police arrived at the scene in Dallas, Harrison’s mother opened the door and told the police officers that her son was “just off the chain.”
He’s “bipolar and schizo,” she informed the officers.
Harrison emerged from the house twiddling a screwdriver in his hands and asking “who’s there?”
The cops immediately pointed guns at him and demanded that he drop the tool. The officers then say that Harrison “lunged” at them and so they shot him multiple times.
The video, taken from police body cam footage, does not appear to show Harrison lunging at the officers.
One of the officers is heard saying: “He was in the doorway. He had a screwdriver. We had this behind us and we had to shoot.”
The grand jury declined to indict the officers, leaving the family frustrated and pained, pursuing a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in October.
“We’re not headed in the right direction for change – to try to taper off the activities these guys are doing and getting away with,” said the brother Sean Harrison, “This is not the way to correct it.”
“We maintain the footage shows him not stabbing, not thrusting, not lunging in a way that would jeopardize the lives of these officer,” said the family’s attorney, Geoff Henley. “He never leaves the front porch and he’s gunned down.”
Henley previously noted that the footage highlights how ill prepared cops are for dealing with mentally ill people who need medical help.
“When you’re dealing with somebody who is mentally ill, you’re not supposed to agitate,” Henley said. “You’re not supposed to move fast… you’re not supposed to inflame.”
“It was the most heartbreaking experience in my life,” said the mother, Shirley Harrison, of the incident. “To stand there helpless, he’s helpless. I couldn’t help him. To be gunned down right before my eyes.”
“This is not the end, this is the beginning,” Sean Harrison said, “And, we will fight to get people in place in office that we need – we need people to address these issues and make the accountability be there so we can have a great city.”
Unfortunately this is not an isolated case. There are regular accounts of police resorting to deadly force when encountering mentally disturbed or challenging individuals. Experts have expressed concern that cops are simply not trained to deal with such situations.