Robert Anderson was still getting used to his new community when police killed him in Crescent City, CA. The 38-year-old former bus driver was from Detroit was shot and killed after California Highway Patrol and officers with the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office responded.
Still using the antiquated ‘officer-involved shooting’ language, local news reports shed little light on what transpired. But the Del Norte Triplicate reported Thursday that Anderson might have had some signs of distress.
The Triplicate interviewed Derrick Willis, a friend of Anderson’s, who saw him shortly before the shooting. Willis told the Triplicate Anderson was acting strangely during their visit.
Reviewing a Facebook post made by Anderson that morning, the Triplicate documented a 40-min Livestream. According to the outlet, Anderson appeared distressed and was shirtless walking through the woods.
Police claim that Anderson was walking in the road with a knife in his hand. Reports mention body camera footage from multiple sources. But none of the footage has been released publicly. Multiple agencies are investigating according to the Triplicate.
Details are sparse, but Anderson’s family has started a GoFundMe to travel from Detroit to Crescent City to bring him home for burial. His sister described him as a loving and nurturing father, son, and friend. An update from Anderson’s sister said the accounts from witnesses paint a different picture than what police reported.
“He always was willing to help and do for anyone,” read the post. “He was so genuine with his character and quick to apologize for any mistakes.”
Users of a community message board pointed to an incident in June when officers from the Crescent City Police Department subdued a man armed with a machete. Local news reports mention the officers were injured in the process, but there was no indication of the suspect being harmed.
While the difference can be attributed to the difference in responding agencies, Anderson’s killing and the possibility of mental distress is another example of utilizing other resources to respond to moments of crisis.
Research shows that since 2015, 25% of police killings involved a person who had a mental illness. Several jurisdictions have adopted either crisis intervention training programs or a crisis intervention unit. But NPR reported last fall that many places had adopted crisis intervention in name only.