Florida resident Justin Way – a recovering alcoholic – was having a relapse after getting fired from his job. He was drunk, depressed, and threatening to kill himself, so his live-in girlfriend Kaitlyn Christine Lyons called for help. She made a call to 911 to get her boyfriend to the local St. Augustine hospital.
“He’s threatened to kill himself twice now, what do I do and who do I call?” she asked the 911 operator, clarifying that she was not in any danger. “He recently lost his job, in addition to he’s also been drinking.”
Way was in his bed with a serrated knife, threatening to use it on himself, when deputies Jonas Carballosa and Kyle Braig arrived at his condo and asked Lyon to wait outside. A few moments later, they fatally shot him.
Lyon was under impression that her 28-year-old boyfriend would be institutionalized for his own protection under Florida’s Baker Act – a law allowing involuntary institutionalization of an individual, and didn’t even think that the police would kill him.
“The only person Justin threatened was himself and I honestly don’t think he wanted to die,” she told the Daily Beast.
The initial police report by Det. Mike Smith stated that two officers were attacked with a knife, adding that Way had also threatened to harm his girlfriend – a claim that she vehemently denies.
The detective allegedly told Way’s parents that the officers “told Justin to drop the knife and he didn’t so they shot him because 'That’s what we do.'" He also suggested that Way had committed “suicide by cop,” implying that he deliberately provoked the officers so that they’d kill him.
Meanwhile, the victim’s parents do not believe their son was a threat. In fact, they think he was shot while still lying in bed.
It has also been discovered that Braig, one of the two officers who shot Way, was involved in a fatal shooting of a knife-wielding man a few months ago.
With President Barack Obama‘s call for the demilitarization of local police and the Cleveland police accepting tougher standards on the force, one can only hope that the prevailing issue of brutality will soon come to an end. However, if and when it ever happens, it would be already too late for people like Justin Way who have lost their lives to the police misuse of force.