No charges will be filed against Indiana police officers after they killed a Black man who was going through a mental health emergency.
On July 29, 51-year-old Dante Kittrell was shot and killed by South Bend Police after a 40-minute standoff with officers trying to calm him down. Police believed Kittrell was armed with a handgun, but would later find out after an investigation that the weapon was a toy airsoft gun made to resemble a Glock. Officers claim they did not know it was a fake gun.
According to reports, as police tried to get Kittrell to drop the weapon he responded to officers by saying things like, “I’m ready to die,” “end this,” “fire it,” and “if I point my weapon at you, you have to do your job, right?
Body camera footage from the incident was released, which shows an erratic Kittrell in the moments before officers shoot him.
Police say Kittrell pointed the weapon at officers which lead to them shooting him three times, killing him on the scene.
An investigation by St. Joseph County and Mishawaka alleges that police had no way of knowing that the weapon Mr. Kittrell pointed at the police was not a real handgun. The investigation also revealed that Kittrell’s death had been ruled a “justifiable homicide” because the officers who shot him, “believed that their lives and those of their fellow officers were in danger from Mr. Kittrell pointing what they believed to be a handgun at them,” a press release stated.
“When I was watching the video, I tried to nitpick and find where would the officers do this or that,” said South Bend Mayor James Mueller during a press conference. “This was an impossible situation our officers found themselves in.”
But faith and community leaders are demanding more answers in the death of Kittrell, as well as more solutions for police handling mental health emergencies.
Pastor J.B. Williams of Abundant Faith Family Ministries told 95.3 MNC that he, “has no confidence South Bend police can keep Black people safe in a mental health crisis.”
“Why wasn’t a mental health crisis team called? They would not respond to an armed person in that state. Plain and simple,” he told 95.3 MNC. “So, by the time you get to this situation, it’s too late. We’ve got to deal with mental health before we get to situations such as these.”
Dante Kittrell’s death is a little over three years after a South Bend police officer shot and killed Eric Logan, which prompted Pete Buttigieg to walk away from his 2020 campaign for president to face South Bend residents who were furious with the police shooting.