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The victim's foster father, William Bruton, said Jennings told him he was heading to Walmart Saturday night.

"He was walking back and they said that they had a complaint and stuff on him out here making a scene," Bruton said.

"As I was looking, they kept getting closer. They pulled the guns out. They kept getting closer and closer. You could hear them tell him to, 'Get down, get down,'" said witness Houston Harris.

"By the time I got to my son, he maneuvered away from me," said Bruton. "He went up toward the cop, he done something with his hand and about 15 to 16 cops shot rounds off on him, in his chest, his legs, everything."

The young man involved was believed to have suicidal thoughts in part due to ongoing seizures and mental health issues.

Family members said police have made several recent trips to their home. They said the young man had been having suicidal thoughts because of painful seizures and had tried to overdose on Friday.

Jennings aunt Brandy Smith, who was at the scene on Saturday, said police wouldn't let her intervene. She said she could have helped Jennings get the help he needed.

"I never thought it would hit this close to home," she said. "My condolences go out to the victims of the Ferguson incident. I'm living it, too. The overkill and the police department not knowing how to handle those with disabilities."

In an overnight news conference, the county attorney and police chief said the shooting was a traumatic experience for the officers involved.

"We have to make sure that they have time to decompress, relax and clear their heads so they can be available for both the families and the KBI as witnesses," said Ottawa Police Chief Dennis P. Butler.

Kansas has been hit with real issues relating to the treatment of those who suffer from mental health issues.   With fewer beds available for those with mental issues, Kansas is becoming a  high risk area for those with disabilities.

PAOLA — A Kansas teenager, said by family members to be mentally disabled, is expected to recover after being shot in the leg by a Miami County sheriff’s deputy after the boy charged at officers with a baseball bat.
Unfortunately for Kansans, more of this is likely lying ahead.

Speaking about life for the mentally ill or those who need help, maybe a kid like this one could find a place to go..

With the patient count so high, many of the hospital’s direct-care staff were pressed into working one, two and sometimes three overtime shifts a week.

“The place is over census and understaffed,” said Rebecca Proctor, executive director at the Kansas Organization of State Employees, a labor union that represents many state hospital front-line workers. “Conditions there are really, really bad.”

We have made sure that those with mental health problems have nowhere to go.  And then, when they act out, we are making sure they get shot.  

A new definition of compassionate conservatism.

5:56 AM PT: Update

News sources have updated their information on the occurance, saying that the young man purchased either a BB Gun in one report or a Water Gun in another, and was pacing around rambling, which is why the police appeared.  

The new contention is also that while 15-16 police officers were present, 6-7 actually fired weapons.   We are unsure of that number.

I understand many in the commentary wish to entirely blame the police departments, etc.   However, I would like to note that at many points along the way there were chances to stop this.   The police department knew the young man was mentally disturbed at his home, his parents had repeatedly called for help, and they knew he was having violent painful seizures.


The lack of appropriately available mental health care facilities and crisis centers is a key component that is not being given enough weight in the impact on why things like this happen.

Police officers are not well trained in this, and as a result, these incidents become 'Suicide by Cop'.  It should have taken just a minute or two to find out he had purchased either a water gun or BB gun from walmart a few minutes ago, eliminating the risk factor.

To me, however, the greater sorrow is that while numerous individuals knew of this young man's troubled existence, the fact that he was dealing with painful, continuous seizures and thought of suicide - had been visited by police repeatedly, there was simply not a way to get him the kind of mental and physical help he needed to help long before this happened.

Originally posted to Kansas & Missouri Kossacks on Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 10:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by Police Accountability Group and Mental Health Awareness.

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