SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – After a fatal shooting involving an officer in Springfield over the weekend, the family of Orlando Taylor, 23, spoke to Western Mass News.
They said Taylor suffered from a mental disability and they did not believe the proper procedures were followed.
“I can’t sleep,” Earlene Victoria Taylor, the victim’s grandmother, told us. “I can’t close my eyes because what I see is this person shooting my grandson in front of my face.”
Taylor held back tears as she recounted the times she saw her grandson being shot by police. Springfield police told Western Mass News that Taylor stabbed a responding officer in the face and charged two officers with a knife in his hand.
“He then shot my grandson twice here on this pitch, and my grandson’s body was all the way here, so they got my grandson from here,” she added.
Taylor said she informed responding officers that Orlando suffered from mental illness.
“I begged him,” she said. “He showed me his neck, which had blood on it. My grandson came out into the street, but given their distance, I don’t understand why they had to shoot him instead of taser him.
The family wondered if the behavioral health network was following the correct protocols.
“The mother informed us that she had spoken to BHN several times, talking about her son. They refused to give him a psychiatric assessment and to ask for help,” said Minister Charles Stokes of the Black Liberation Alliance for Change. “They told him they couldn’t do anything for him unless he committed a – unless he did something wrong.”
We spoke with Dr. Steve Winn of the Behavioral Health Network. He could not comment on this specific case, but he explained their procedures.
“When we get a call through our crisis team or through our work with local police, we do an assessment of what that person needs, and sometimes the family wants something or other providers want something, but the individual wants something different. “, explained Dr. Winn. “If that person isn’t threatening to hurt somebody, hasn’t done something violent, isn’t threatening to harm themselves, we really have to respect the wishes of the individual and sometimes that individual wants treatment and help and sometimes he doesn’t”. t. »
He added that BHN works closely with local police departments to improve the system, and they are sometimes called to meet police at the scene.
“Generally if there’s a call because someone is violent or has a weapon or something, the police wouldn’t call us,” Dr Winn said.
We also wanted to know what the appropriate procedures are for police officers in this type of situation and how often they are trained. Joseph Gentile, president of the Springfield Police Officers Union, told us that they undergo 40 hours of ongoing training each year, but are also updated throughout the year by the Springfield police. .
“I think what’s important for people to understand is how quickly, you know on a quiet Sunday morning, how quickly things can ramp up,” Gentile said. “And fortunately these officers, their training put them in the right position where they did well and I’m grateful for that, but people have to understand that it’s dangerous work and unfortunately sometimes terrible incidents like this happen when we are just trying to do our job.
He also explained the protocol for shooting a suspect.
“Throughout Massachusetts, the training is the same, which is when you have to shoot your gun at a person, you shoot at the central mass, which is the largest part of the body. It’s with the intent to arrest a person and with no other intent,” Gentile explained.
Western Mass News has contacted the Springfield Police Department for comment, but has not yet received a response. In the meantime, the Hampden District Attorney’s Office is investigating the use of force in this case.
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