BERKS COUNTY — On Monday, police in Muhlenberg Township were called to the home of a man in the midst of a mental health crisis. When the man, who has yet to be identified, refused to drop a knife he was holding, police shot and killed him.
The following statement can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the man killed by police this week in Muhlenberg Township. According to news reports, the man had locked himself inside a bathroom and was in the midst of a mental health crisis when police shot and killed him. The man’s family called 911 for help; shooting him was clearly not the help they were hoping for. This has become an all-too-familiar story. This week’s tragic death at the hands of police again underscores the fact that police officers are the wrong people to respond when someone is in crisis. Instead, the first responders should be trained mental health professionals, not armed agents of the state who seem far more ready to pull out their firearms than to de-escalate a confrontation.
“As a state and a country, we have overspent precious public dollars on law enforcement and underspent on mental health care and intervention. It is time to reverse that trend, to divest in policing and invest in people-focused programs. Time and again, police have shown an inability to manage these situations when someone is in crisis. We should stop calling upon them to intervene in situations for which they are not qualified.
“We urge District Attorney Adams to conduct a swift, transparent, and comprehensive investigation of this latest police killing and to hold each and every officer accountable for any wrongdoing in this tragic case.”