LAS CRUCES, New Mexico – Law enforcement experts on Friday commented on the complexity of emergency calls where a person has mental health issues or weapons, such as knives.
“We have to process things in real time: in milliseconds,” said Clint McNear, a field service supervisor for the Texas Municipal Police Association. “We have to do what we have to do to protect the community and ourselves.”
“If you’re a police officer responding to a scene where there’s an aggressive individual with a knife, the first thing you need to do is preserve life,” said Jennifer Szimanski, a spokeswoman for Combined Law. Enforcement Associations of Texas. It’s so hard to wrap your head around how dangerous it is for someone to approach you with a knife. ”
On Thursday, the family of the 75-year-old with dementia said they suffered a “horrific and horrific loss” when he was shot and killed by an unknown officer last month. They said Amelia Baca, who was holding two knives, threatened other family members in the home.
“Let me be frank,” said Sam Bregman, a family attorney. “Amelia Baca was killed by the Las Cruces Police Department on April 16 this year. It shouldn’t have happened. It shouldn’t have happened.”
For the first time on Tuesday, the city released video showing every moment of the deadly shooting. An officer made several orders to Baca: twice, he told him to “put it down,” nine times he used the variations of “drop the knife,” twice he told him to “put it on the ground “and three times he told her. to “put it on now.”
“Whenever someone has a deadly weapon, the deadly force is justified,” McNear said. “One of the things about tasers is that they’re not perfect. When he starts to advance towards him, a taser is not an option.
“If they don’t follow the orders, the level of threat is higher,” Szimanski said. “We can’t enter the minds of an individual who has failed to comply with police orders, but we know and we have always been told that anything other than compliance is seen as officer aggression.”
Baca’s grandson Albitar Inoh, can be seen in the video telling the officer, “Please be very careful with him.” There were many family members in the tense scene around the house. In a police interview after the incident, Inoh said he did not believe his grandmother would hurt anyone.
“If he was aggressive, he attacked me,” Inoh said in a police interview. “He didn’t attack me.”
“Mental health is something all peace officers are trained in, but understanding mental health can only happen when a scene is made safe,” he said. Szimanski said.
“Emergency responders are not given the luxury of reviewing the situation, thinking of plans and alternative plans, reviewing again, then improving what they can,” McNear wrote. “It’s rapidly developing dangerous calls that an officer has milliseconds to act on.”