Andre Smith, 44, Critically Injured Following Mental Health Crisis and Police Shooting In San Pablo
SAN PABLO, CALIFORNIA (September 10, 2023) – A 44-year-old man identified as Andre Smith was seriously injured in a San Pablo police shooting at a residence on the 2600 block of Dover Avenue.
Contra Costa County officials are saying that the incident took place around 1:39 p.m. on Friday. A woman called San Pablo police officials so that her husband could get a mental health evaluation.
Her husband, Andre Smith, was reportedly showing signs of schizophrenia. When police officers arrived at the scene, they found the man locked inside a room.
He was not acting violent at the time and agreed to call police if he needed help later on. Around 50 minutes later, officers were called back to the residence after they heard that Andre Smith was acting erratically.
When officers arrived a second time, the man allegedly threw bricks at officers before grabbing a metal pole. At some point during the encounter, at least one officer opened fire and struck him.
He was taken to a local hospital and remains in critical condition. The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave.
Liability For San Pablo Police Shootings
California has a particularly high occurrence of fatal police shootings. Many of these encounters involve people who are in the midst of a mental health crisis. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, “People with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than other civilians approached or stopped by law enforcement […]. Numbering fewer than 1 in 50 U.S. adults, individuals with untreated severe mental illness are involved in at least 1 in 4 and as many as half of all fatal police shootings.” There are many measures that police department should take in order to avoid harming people who are mentally ill.
- Police officers should be trained to identify when a suspect is in a mental health crisis.
- Police officers should have plenty of less-lethal alternatives in addition to their firearms.
- Police officers should request backup when they are dealing with someone seriously mentally ill.
- In certain situations, officers trained in crisis intervention should be part of a police response.
Police officers must use a great deal of care in order to avoid needlessly harming suspects. According to California Penal Code 835(a), “the authority to use physical force, conferred on peace officers by this section, is a serious responsibility that shall be exercised judiciously and with respect for human rights and dignity and for the sanctity of every human life.” If a police officer utilizes excessive force, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim.
There are steps and regulations that police officers must follow if they encounter a mentally ill suspect. Consider, for example, Tabares v. City of Huntington Beach. A man suffering from a mental illness identified as Dillan Tabares was shot and killed by police. He was outside minding his own business when a police officer repeatedly tried to make contact with him. Though it became clear he was suffering from a mental illness, the officer failed to de-escalate the encounter and kept trying to speak with him. The officer did not follow police protocol before shooting and killing Tabares. His family eventually settled with the county. There are many steps that should be taken after any police shooting.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- Body camera footage from all officers involved should be reviewed.
- The actions of officers leading up to a shooting should be understood.
- All injuries after any police encounter should be well documented.
- An experienced civil rights advocate should be contacted.
Many police shootings are avoidable. This is especially true for encounters with people who need mental health treatment. Sadly, though, police officers receive relatively little training to deal with mentally ill suspects. To make matters worse, many people aren’t able to get the mental healthcare that they need. Any person that is injured due to the excessive force of police officers may be able to seek some measure of justice through a constitutional claim.
Getting Legal Help After San Pablo Police Shootings
We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our best wishes to Andre Smith and his family as he continues to recover. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened. This individual was in a time of great need and should have been met with a compassionate response. Instead, he was almost killed by the officers that showed up and chose to open fire. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent other instances like this.
Have you or someone that you care about been injured in a San Pablo police shooting? There are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. Our team of civil rights advocates are here to help in any way that we can. We focus entirely on helping people who have been the victims of police brutality and holding police departments accountable. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.