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A cry for help has now turned into a cry for justice after an unarmed mentally ill Black man was shot and killed by cops in suburban San Diego.

On Tuesday, the sister of 30-year-old Alfred Olango called police for assistance when her mentally ill brother began acting erratically. According to officers who arrived on the scene, Olango ignored their calls to remove his hands from his pockets.

Their fatal encounter with Olango leads to another troubling issue: how should law enforcement officers respond to mentally ill individuals?

Reverend Shane Harris, President of the San Diego National Action Network (NAN), appeared on NewsOneNow to discuss how law enforcement officers deal with the mentally ill.

“What is the conduct for police when dealing with somebody who is mentally ill?” asked Harris. “Can somebody mentally ill follow any kind of protocol?”

After Martin and Harris’ discussion of the shooting, panelist Jessica Byrd, Principal of Three Point Strategies, quoted a set of alarming statics that report 50 percent of the people killed by police are mentally ill.

“At what point does this become a public health crisis?” Byrd asked.

“The questions that we should be asking isn’t just about the standards and practices, which we know at times are in place and can still be mishandled.”

The NewsOne Now panelist believes law enforcement’s funding needs to be balanced out to incorporate mental health programs where people can get help, “instead of calling the police out of fear.”

Watch Roland Martin, Rev. Shane Harris, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the shooting of Alfred Olango in the video clip above.


Watch NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.


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Olango Shooting Raises Questions About How Cops Respond To Calls About Mentally Ill People In Distress  was originally published on