The family of a mentally ill Black man who was shot and killed by police in March filed a lawsuit that alleged officers knew about his mental condition and should have de-escalated the confrontation.
Jontell Reedom’s mother, Anyka Harris, filed the suit on Aug. 22 in federal court, naming the city of Tulare, California, its police department and the officers who killed her son as the defendants, the Fresno Bee reported.
The lawsuit underscored that Reedom, 27, was unarmed “and did not pose any immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to anyone at the time of the shooting.” The wrongful death suit accused the defendants of excessive force, negligence and inadequate police training.
The officers were responding to a 911 call of an assault of a bus driver on March 12 when they encountered Reedom, the police said. When the former high school football star resisted, one of the officer used a Taser on him, but Reedom fought back.
Officers opened fire, hitting Reedom several times. He died from a gunshot wound to his head, according to the death certificate. The officers failed to treat him immediately or call medical personnel, the suit alleged.
Reedom had reportedly been diagnosed with schizophrenia. His mental health declined over the past year after the death of his grandmother, Harris told YourCentralValley.com. There were widespread protests after the shooting, and some demonstrators held signs protesting police shooting of mentally ill suspects.
The Tulare police declined an offer from the Bee to comment on the lawsuit. However, the department defended the cops after the shooting, claiming it was justified because Reedom took the officer’s baton during the encounter.