Saugus Police Shooting Was Just The Latest Involving Mental Health Issues

Police cruisers in Saugus. Stephanie Gerardi, 38, was shot and killed by a Saugus police officer after her family called police for help. (Todd Wallack/WBUR)

Karen Gillis’ son Danny was killed by Pittsfield police in 2017. Investigators say Danny had a knife and provoked police into shooting him⁠ — a phenomenon known as suicide by cop.

Gillis said Danny was drunk that day and had struggled with mental health problems for years. But she thinks her son might still be alive if social workers had showed up instead of police.

“Call in the crisis team before the cops,” she said. “Have someone talk to you before a cop comes in. Because in my opinion, they automatically got their hands on that gun.”

More than 1,400 people with a mental health condition have been killed in a police shooting across the country since 2015, according to the Washington Post, which has compiled a database of police shootings. That’s despite efforts by police departments across the country to better deal with mental health calls.

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