Police officers shot and critically injured an African-American teenager who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in Crystal, Minnesota.
Khaleel Thompson, 18, faced severe depression and mood disorders, so much so that his family had to temporarily pull him out of school. The teenager has been hospitalized more than 10 times for mental issues and even attempted suicide a number of times. During his most recent episode, Thompson put a knife to his throat and threatened to kill himself. The incident led to police bringing in a negotiator to help him talk out of it and Thompson’s mother, Naomi, said they responded to wellness calls later and knew him.
Earlier this month, Thompson abruptly moved to California and when he got back, he said he had been staying with friends and was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Earlier this week, friends contacted the police, telling them the teenager was sending troubling messages and might cause himself harm. The police arrived, and according to a friend Bella Heidenreich, spent “two minutes” checking up on Thompson and left.
On Wednesday, Crystal police received a call that a man was seen with a handgun at a park. While recounting the incident, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said that officers confronted the teenager and “demanded he drop the weapon.” He was holding a “black, handgun-style air soft gun with a black-tipped barrel” — not a firearm — and he pointed the non-lethal weapon at the police officers.
The police first fired “nonlethal rounds” at Thompson — not specifying what type of rounds those were — but when the teenagers refused to put down the gun, they opened fire and shot more than a dozen rounds at Thompson, two of which hit him in the head and spine.
“Our officers, believing they were in imminent danger, discharged their firearms toward the suspect and immediately provided first aid,” Police Chief Stephanie Revering said.
The teenager is now in critical condition and one of his kidneys has been removed.
“I went last night and I couldn’t see him like that,” said his tearful mother. “They said if he makes it through, his recovery’s going to be difficult. So much for graduating high school. So much for going to college.”
Naomi Thompson, mom of 18-year-old shooting victim Khaleel Thompson: "I'm too hysterical. I couldn't see what those monsters did to him." pic.twitter.com/asFkSkX1Vk— Doualy Xaykaothao (@DoualyX) May 26, 2017
She also said the police had no reason to fire at Thompson since they were aware of his condition.
“The Crystal Police Department knows that — they’ve come out a few times,” she said.
The devastated mother called the police several times but they refused to give her any information about the incident.
“They shot my son and they’re not telling me anything,” she said.
The St. Paul chapter of Black Lives Matter called out the police for yet again shooting a black person for “fear of their lives.”
The internet is also full of prayers for the boy struggling for his life.
Pray for Khaleel Thompson he was a dear friend of mine and is now fighting for his life after police shot him in the head— Jam&swiss (@Jam_n_swiss) May 26, 2017
I love you I love you I love you #KhaleelThompson— triple d (@mudlhoney) May 26, 2017
Thursday night, dozens of people gathered at the Wellstone Center in St. Paul where the Governor’s Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations held a listening session.
“We have too many people in our community afraid to call the police when someone is having an episode of psychosis or has a mental health background because they are afraid they are going to end up dead,” said Nekima Levy-Pounds, former president of the Minneapolis NAACP and a Minneapolis mayoral candidate. “We have a young man right now in critical condition because of mental health issues, and police not knowing how to respond properly.”
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters