Civilian police oversight failed in shooting of mentally ill

On December 9, 2021, the Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA) had four vacancies on its nine-member board. The remaining five members reviewed details of a shooting involving an officer in case #20-0044826. The jury member who presented the case said it should be filed if all members were unable to review the documents. Two of the five board members indicated that they had not reviewed the documents; we only watched a video.

Incomprehensibly, the presentation of the case continued, and with only three board members having access to the DPA documents, all five members voted unanimously to accept the findings of the DPA. ODA survey.

On June 4, 2020, Michael Mitnik called 911 to get help for his son, Max, who was suffering from mental illness and was out of medication. Max wanted to go to the hospital, but not with his parents. Max’s father specifically requested that a crisis response team respond. The APD dispatched two agents trained in enhanced crisis intervention (ECIT).

An officer shot Max twice, once in the head. Max Mitnik survived, but not without life-altering head trauma and permanent disability. See civil file D-202-CV-2022-0086.

In its review of the case, the CPOA Board found that there were numerous errors in the DPA’s response. For example, the ECIT agents did not adequately grasp the nature or seriousness of the call. Officers did not collect information from family members and did not act on it. They did not control the scene, handcuffing and unbuckling Max, not searching for him with weapons and allowing him to go inside the house unescorted. Officers did not consider suicide a concern despite references from the dispatch to Max’s past self-injurious behavior. Although Max initially agreed to go to UNMH, ECIT officers escalated the situation by discouraging his decisions, claiming a long wait time at UNMH sitting in the police cruiser, handcuffed and unable to go to the toilet.

Board members questioned how the APD determines the minimum amount of force needed and why, in this case, less lethal options were not more fully considered or discussed. Despite these questions and their own discomfort, council members did not blame the shooting given the circumstances immediately preceding the shooting.

If the ECIT agents had followed the most basic policy and procedures, Max would not have been shot. According to the Force Review Board, the danger started on arrival and the mistakes made caused this shooting and the failure of the officer to acknowledge the mistakes is terribly concerning. Despite the serious failures, reliable sources report that the shooter received an eight-hour suspension. Both officers received a letter of reprimand for violating the policy and were to receive additional training. The CPOA board avoided discussing the officers’ disciplinary history and, significantly, the appropriateness of that discipline.

The CPOA is legally required to review investigations into officer-involved shootings, make findings for each, and make them available to the public on the CPOA’s website. No such report has been published.

The board said more needed to be done to avert these mental health disasters, but did not consider further investigation or possible remedial action. Considering yet another example of the Commission’s incomplete and understaffed review of this matter as well as its failure to make and publish the required report of its findings, a reconceptualization of this problematic and ineffective civilian oversight process is urgently needed. .

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