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In April 2019, 30-year-old Soheil Antonio Mojarrad was shot eight times and killed by Raleigh police officer W.B. Edwards after police claim he refused to drop a knife and shouted obscenities at Edwards. Mojarrad had a history of mental health issues, compounded by being hit by a car, and officers had been called to the scene for a report of trespassing. His family said he was a loving, caring person who never met a stranger.
In January 2020, 52-year-old Keith Dutree Collins was shot six times and killed by Raleigh officer W.B. Tapscott after police claim he pointed a BB gun at the officer. Tapscott approached Collins after a report that Collins was acting strangely, and Collins refused to talk to the officer. His mother said he had a developmental disability and could only read at a third grade level, but loved everyone, despite facing many bullies in his life.
In both cases, the officer involved faced no charges in the death, following district attorney investigations that found Edwards and Tapscott used lawful force.
"People cannot pick on him anymore," his mother, Gloria Mayo, told ABC11 in February 2020. "They can't pick on him anymore. They cannot do anything to Keith anymore."
In an analysis of nearly 100 officer-involved shootings and use-of-force incidents across central North Carolina law enforcement agencies for the past eight years, the ABC11 I-Team found at least 39% of incidents involved a person experiencing a mental health crisis or a person with a history of mental illness.
In the wake of these incidents, many advocates for reform wonder whether police officers are equipped to respond to mental health emergencies, and how cities
and states can better support their law enforcement agencies to take care of the people whom they are sworn to protect.