ST. ANDREW, JAMAICA (FATAL SHOOTING ) : Police Kill Mentally Ill 23-year-old Man Day After Baptism To Remove 'Spirit' - Specialist Said It Could Have Been Avoided...There are some 55,000 registered mentally ill persons living in Jamaica

Published:Thursday | April 21, 2016 | 12:01 AMCorey Robinson Gleaner
NDECOM member speaks with relatives and friends of
23-year-old Odane Bennett, who was killed by the police
 after he reportedly disarmed a police constable of an
 M-16 assault rifle outside the Olympic Gardens Police
Station in St Andrew yesterday
The fatal shooting of a 23-year-old man who yesterday snatched an M16 rifle from a policeman outside the Olympic Gardens Police Station in St Andrew has sparked criticism from one mental health specialist who believes the situation could have been handled differently.
Professor Frederick Hickling, psychiatrist in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies, said Odane Bennett might still be alive had the police contacted the nearest mental health team, which could have talked Bennett into returning the stolen weapon to the cops without incident.
"This sort of incident is very unusual; it is very rare. You have mentally ill persons who get sick, but the rate of them committing violent crimes is very low. It is often blown out of proportion by people who have this fantasy that mentally ill people are dangerous," said Hickling, revealing that there are some 55,000 registered mentally ill persons living in Jamaica and that only a small fraction of them are violent.
"But I can't blame the police. They are not trained to deal with mental illness. They are trained to deal with criminal and violent persons. So the minute they see a person behaving in a violent manner, the knee-jerk reaction is to respond to him as a criminal," he said.
Hickling said trained mental health teams are assigned to general hospitals and clinics across the island but that many persons are not aware of such teams. He questioned why the police did not summon one of the teams to the scene.
Official police reports are that about 6 a.m., Bennett, whose relatives said he was of unsound mind, snatched the weapon from the constable as he sat in a police vehicle outside the Olympic Gardens station.

Evasive Action

Bennett then ran across the road and boarded a minibus loaded with passengers. The cops immediately pounced on the vehicle and demanded that Bennett turn over the weapon. Instead, he reportedly pointed it at them, and the policemen said they were forced to take evasive action, firing several shots, killing him.
Four investigators from the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) combed the death scene for clues yesterday, as a section of Olympic Way remained cordoned off to vehicular traffic until noon. more

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