Mental health

LAPD shootings reveal broken mental health system, officials say – Los Angeles Times

Summary

When a 19-year-old tourist from Singapore was stabbed in the abdomen on Hollywood Boulevard last month, witnesses and the victim quickly pointed out the suspect to police.

Police already knew the man, Grisha Alaverdyan, from prior encounters.

Alaverdyan, 27, had been arrested and charged two weeks earlier with grand theft auto and hit-and-run, then released pending trial, according to court records. In February, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a year of probation for vehic…….

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When a 19-year-old tourist from Singapore was stabbed in the abdomen on Hollywood Boulevard last month, witnesses and the victim quickly pointed out the suspect to police.

Police already knew the man, Grisha Alaverdyan, from prior encounters.

Alaverdyan, 27, had been arrested and charged two weeks earlier with grand theft auto and hit-and-run, then released pending trial, according to court records. In February, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a year of probation for vehicle theft and assaulting an officer. And since 2018, police said, he had been assessed at least eight times by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Mental Evaluation Unit.

Now, Alaverdyan appeared to be in crisis once more as he held up a knife not far from where the stabbing occurred, according to body-camera video from the scene. He laughed and thrust his hips as officers trained their weapons on him. Then he moved toward them, knife still in hand, and they shot him with a live round and a beanbag projectile.

Alaverdyan’s case, like several other police shootings in recent months, highlighted a troubling trend of LAPD officers opening fire on suspects with mental illnesses, but also a broader failure of the mental health system to get people the care they need when they repeatedly fall into crisis on the street or come into contact with police in less serious encounters.

Instead, in L.A. and around the region, people with mental illnesses are cycled through what police, mental health officials and advocates agree is a dizzying, revolving door of temporary psychiatric units and jail wards, never getting the long-term care they need before they are pushed back onto the street until they eventually wind up dead or in police custody on a serious enough charge to keep them incarcerated for good.

About a third of the more than 30 people shot by LAPD officers this year are believed to have had a mental illness at the time. Most had been previously assessed and found to be ill.

The trend has outraged those who want police removed from situations involving people with mental illnesses, and who believe officers open fire too quickly on people in crisis, particularly those with edged weapons like knives. That outrage has fueled discussions about defunding police.

The shootings have also caused mounting frustration among police officers and mental health officials and advocates, who say the broken mental health system deserves as much scrutiny as the shootings themselves.

Too few people with mental illnesses who fall into crisis or get arrested for minor infractions are successfully transitioned into longer-term care or housing before things escalate, they said — a reality driven by a decades-old legal system that shut asylums and state mental health institutions without ever standing up the community-based care options and beds that were originally envisioned to replace them.

The day before Alaverdyan was shot by officers, police shot a woman named Evelyn Del Real …….

Source: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-11-18/string-of-lapd-shootings-exposes-l-a-s-broken-mental-health-system-officials-say