Justice for Bennie Edwards

Justice for Bennie Edwards
Photo from democracynow.org

On December 11th, 60-year-old Bennie Edwards was shot and killed in Oklahoma City.

Bennie had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Neither mental health professionals nor Crisis Intervention trained officers were dispatched to the “disturbance” call in front of a local business.

Bennie was known by many in the community as a kind, caring man who often sold flowers around the city.

The two officers, Master Sgt. Keith Duroy and Sgt. Clifford Holman of the Oklahoma City Police Department, attempted to use stun guns and pepper spray to subdue Bennie but were not successful.

Bystander video shows Bennie running towards the police officers, but shots continued to be fired even after he stopped approaching them. The police report states that Bennie had a knife.

At this time, body cam footage is not publically available, pending an investigation and district attorney decision on the shooting.

An Oklahoma City Police Department spokesperson confirmed that neither officer had completed CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training. The training is a voluntary 40-hour training program that teaches officers how to respond to individuals suffering a mental health crisis. Only 14% of officers in Oklahoma City have completed the program.


What can you do?

  • Push for mandatory mental health training for police officers. Call or email your local government representatives and demand that they institute mandatory mental health crisis training for all police officers.
  • Demand that the officers responsible for the death of Bennie Edwards are held accountable.
  • Demand police reform in OKC.

Resources:

National Alliance on Mental Health:

https://www.nami.org/Advocacy/Crisis-Intervention/Crisis-Intervention-Team-(CIT)-Programs
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Information on CITs:

https://www.citinternational.org/


Who to contact:

OKC Police non-emergency

Phone: (405) 231-2121
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OKC District Attorney

Phone: (405) 713-1600


More Information on CIT programs:

CIT programs help officers who are responding to mental health-related calls de-escalate situations without resorting to violence. CIT programs aim to decrease the number of individuals incarcerated for drug or mental-health caused behaviors.

CIT Programs are effective. Miami-Dade County has directed thousands of mentally ill offenders into treatment instead of jail, cutting the county’s jail population from a daily average of 7,000 prisoners to around 4,000 in 2018. This works through a combination of CIT policing and community reform.


Sources:

ActivismImpacts