On Monday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced that it would not seek criminal charges against the Cherokee County deputy who shot and killed a 16-year-old during a May 1 standoff.
In a report that filled more than 700 pages, the GBI said that the deputy" felt there was a deadly threat toward the negotiators and he had an obligation to protect them."
The incident began when the teenager grabbed his father's pistol and threatened to murder his mother and then kill himself. The situation quickly escalated and the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department called its SWAT Team to the scene. Hostage negotiators were not able to convince the teenager to drop his weapon, stop consuming alcohol or end his threats to burn the home down.
Ultimately, the deputy shot the teenager when he pointed his pistol at hostage negotiators. The teenager died from a single gunshot wound to the chest.
This story shows once again the need in our society for increased access to therapists, programs and other mental health resources. The teenager involved had a history of trouble at school and although he and his family sought treatment, he was apparently not able to find the right course of action and so was never able to overcome his personal obstacles.
Mental health issues are disturbingly prevalent among people who are accused of crimes. It is crucial that we understand that people who are facing mental difficulties are not the same as mentally healthy people and need to be treated with a greater degree of circumspection.
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Deputy cleared in shooting death of teen," June 25, 2012
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