While the disturbing trend of police killing Black people never ended, there seems to be a renewed spate of such preventable violence in recent weeks. That truth, unfortunately, includes Damian Daniels, a military veteran who was shot twice in the chest in front of his newly purchased home in Texas after cops were dispatched there to perform a wellness check last week.
S. Lee Merritt, the civil rights attorney representing Daniels’ family, has described the scenario that led to the deadly Aug. 25 shooting as a fateful collision of factors that places the blame directly on law enforcement’s inability to respond to a nonviolent situation without lethal force.
A press release sent by Merritt’s law firm said that Daniels, a combat veteran, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was previously “the subject of four mental health-related calls” without incident. However, that didn’t happen the fifth time, Merritt said.
“Damian was a veteran experiencing a mental health crisis and in need of help,” Merritt said Tuesday in a statement. “Damian’s family reached out to the Red Cross, who in turn reached out to the Bexar County Sherriff’s Office and explained that Damian should be encouraged to visit the VA hospital. Instead of helping Damian, sheriff deputies arrived and attempted to force Damian out of his home, before shooting and killing him in front of his house.”
The shooting has resulted in days of protests in San Antonio, a city that is no stranger to police controversies. Protesters have been demanding justice for Daniels’ killing in support of defunding the police and reallocating those funds to train officers on how to better deal with subjects suffering from mental illness.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar has attempted to justify his officers’ deadly response and said they were defending themselves against Daniels, who he described as the aggressor.
According to local news outlet KSAT, the police said Daniels “was mentally unstable and suicidal after the loss of loved ones” and that “he was reportedly also seeing things and hearing voices.”
Police “tried to de-escalate the situation for about 30 minutes since they knew [Daniels] had a weapon.” But when the cops “tried to bond with Daniels in an attempt to calm him down” to no avail, both deputies ended up using each of their Taser guns on him during a struggle.
Police said Daniels was wearing a gun in a holster around his waist at the time of the encounter and “reached” for the gun, purportedly prompting the cops to fatally shoot.
While there were still likely plenty of crucial details and context that were missing from that police narrative, it also did not seem to merit killing someone with whom the Bexar County Sherriff’s Office had become familiar through “over the last few days” before his death. It was also unclear why the Bexar County Sherriff’s Office was the default agency charged with responding to a mental health wellness check, especially if multiple previous and recent attempts had been fruitless.
An investigation has begun into the shooting as the officers involved enjoy paid administrative leave.
Merritt said he was meeting Tuesday with Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales and planned to hold a press conference afterward.
Texas Public Radio reported that on the same day Daniels was killed, the Bexar County Sherriff’s Office also arrested a Black man and charged with him a felony for failing to identify himself even though he was the wrong person police were looking for. That, combined with Daniels’ case, suggested the Bexar County Sherriff’s Office could be implicitly biased against Black suspects.
Daniels appears to be the latest in a growing list of Black men suffering from mental illness and killed by police who failed to property use de-escalation techniques.
Police in Oregon killed Andre Catrel Gladen, who was legally blind and on medication for bipolar disorder, last year. His family said the cops should have suspected that he had mental health issues. In 2018, officers from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office shot and killed Jarvis Randal, who was armed with a piece of glass, in a Florida mental health facility. Earlier that year, sheriff’s deputies in San Mateo County, California were accused of using excessive force to apprehend Chinedu Valentine Okobi who had been walking in and out of traffic. Two deputies tasered Okobi multiple times to subdue and place him in handcuffs. His family said he was suffering from mental illness.
In one of the most notorious instances of police using deadly force in response to someone suffering from mental illness, officers from the NYPD killed Saheed Vassell when four cops — one in uniform, three in plainclothes — killed the 34-year-old in a hail of 10 bullets on a Brooklyn sidewalk in 2018. The officers responded to calls about a Black man with a gun. But it turned out that Vassell, who reportedly suffered from bipolar disorder, was holding a pipe. No firearm was found at the scene and a witness said police didn’t use any de-escalation tactics when they fatally shot Vassell within seconds of arriving.
88 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. Deon Kay1 of 88
2. Daniel Prude2 of 88
3. Damian Daniels3 of 88
4. Dijon Kizzee4 of 88
5. Trayford PellerinSource:GoFundMe 5 of 88
6. David McAtee6 of 88
7. George Floyd7 of 88
8. Yassin Mohamed8 of 88
9. Finan H. Berhe9 of 88
10. Sean ReedSource:Twitter 10 of 88
11. Steven Demarco TaylorSource:S. Lee Merritt 11 of 88
12. Ariane McCreeSource:The Herald/YouTube 12 of 88
13. Terrance Franklin13 of 88
14. Miles HallSource:KRON4 14 of 88
15. Darius TarverSource:S. Lee Merritt 15 of 88
16. William Green16 of 88
17. Samuel David Mallard, 1917 of 88
18. Kwame "KK" Jones, 17Source:facebook 18 of 88
19. De’von Bailey, 1919 of 88
20. Christopher Whitfield, 3120 of 88
21. Anthony Hill, 2621 of 88
22. De'Von Bailey, 1922 of 88
23. Eric Logan, 5423 of 88
24. Jamarion Robinson, 2624 of 88
25. Gregory Hill Jr., 3025 of 88
26. JaQuavion Slaton, 2026 of 88
27. Ryan Twyman, 2427 of 88
28. Brandon Webber, 2028 of 88
29. Jimmy Atchison, 2129 of 88
30. Willie McCoy, 2030 of 88
31. D’ettrick Griffin, 1831 of 88
32. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 32 of 88
33. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 33 of 88
34. Botham Shem Jean, 26Source:false 34 of 88
35. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 35 of 88
36. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 36 of 88
37. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 37 of 88
38. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 38 of 88
39. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 39 of 88
40. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 40 of 88
41. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 41 of 88
42. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 42 of 88
43. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 43 of 88
44. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 44 of 88
45. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 45 of 88
46. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 46 of 88
47. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 47 of 88
48. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 48 of 88
49. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 49 of 88
50. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 50 of 88
51. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 51 of 88
52. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 52 of 88
53. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 53 of 88
54. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 54 of 88
55. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 55 of 88
56. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 56 of 88
57. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 57 of 88
58. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 58 of 88
59. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 59 of 88
60. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 60 of 88
61. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 61 of 88
62. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 62 of 88
63. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 63 of 88
64. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 64 of 88
65. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 65 of 88
66. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 66 of 88
67. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 67 of 88
68. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 68 of 88
69. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 69 of 88
70. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 70 of 88
71. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 71 of 88
72. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 72 of 88
73. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 73 of 88
74. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 74 of 88
75. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 75 of 88
76. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 76 of 88
77. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 77 of 88
78. Danny Ray Thomas, 34Source:false 78 of 88
79. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 79 of 88
80. Patrick Harmon, 5080 of 88
81. Jonathan Hart, 2181 of 88
82. Maurice Granton, 2482 of 88
83. Julius Johnson, 2383 of 88
84. Jamee Johnson, 22Source:S. Lee Merritt 84 of 88
85. Michael Dean, 28Source:S. Lee Merritt 85 of 88
RIP Damian Daniels: Everything To Know About Military Veteran Killed By Cops During Wellness Check was originally published on newsone.com