As people across the country continue calling for justice in the death of an unarmed Florida teen, residents in the Alabama town of Headland will march in a call for justice for an unarmed man who was killed there by police in January.
Patrick Humphrey, 33, was shot by police, after his mother called emergency crews to help restrain him. Humphries was known to have mental disorders and to become resistant if there were problems with his medication, friends and family members say.
“His mother called 911 to get help with her son. She did not call for anyone to come and kill her son,” said the Rev. Kenny Glasgow, a pastor in Dothan, and the brother of Rev. Al Sharpton. “Patrick Humphrey did not have to die.”
Officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave with pay as the Alabama Bureau of Investigation investigates the case, in the small southeast Alabama city.
Police have said Humphrey assaulted two emergency medical technicians and a police officer. When another officer arrived, Humphrey attacked the second officer who retreated, then fired his weapon at Humphrey, according to an article published in the Dothan Eagle.
Family members say they don’t know why police fired upon Humphrey this time. “They knew what they were dealing with when they came,” said Kesha Nix, Humphrey’s sister. “It’s like they just pulled and fired,” she told BlackAmericaweb.com.
Glasgow expects 500 to 1,000 people to participate in the march that will start at noon at Humphrey’s family home on Hollon Street in Headland and end at the Headland City Square.
Glasgow and supporters of his organization, The Ordinary People Society, are advocating several changes in Alabama that he hopes will bring an end to police shooting people with mental challenges.
“We’re calling on the Alabama Legislature to make changes in the law so that no family in this state has to suffer the tragedy that Patrick Humphrey’s family has suffered,” Glasgow told BlackAmericaweb.com.
One of the problems in the small town and in many rural and urban cities is that police do not have enough training to handle citizens with mental disorders, said Nix.
“When the police came, they didn’t try to use any other method for restraining him or stopping him,” she said. “They need to have more training, especially when it comes to the possibly using deadly force.”
Alabama is about to close at least four mental health facilities and many of the people who live in the facilities will find dwellings in the communities.
“What’s going to happen when there are more people with mental challenges going back to the community and the police are not trained properly to work with them?” Glasgow said. “This is a public health and public safety issue.”
He is also calling for records on background of law enforcement officers to be more accessible to the public.
“If they have had problems in the past, we need to know it,” he said. “Some of the officers involved with the shooting of Patrick Humphrey had other incidents in their records,” he said. “We must have standards in this state. We pay law enforcement officers to protect and serve us.”