Dallas Cop Shoots Mentally Ill Black Man

by Project Censored

There have been many speculations and stories about high profile killings in places such as New York and the top story about the shooting in Ferguson. Now, it is happening in Dallas, Texas as well. Due to the regulations of a police department, one of the cops involved in the Dallas shooting had a camera attached to his body; catching the entire incident on tape.

A 38-year-old, African-American man, Jason Harrison, was shot and killed in his home after his mother had called asking someone to take him to a local hospital because he was in a mental crisis. Unfortunately, this incident happened last summer, but the footage has just recently been released.  Harrison was suffering from bipolar disorder as well as schizophrenia. In the footage, it shows the two white officers demanding that Harrison drop the screwdriver he was twiddling with; and within seconds fired several shots, killing Harrison. In October, the family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officers as well as the city. After the case was forwarded to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office from the Dallas Police Department; Morning News reports that an attorney for the officers said that they feared for their lives.


Curtis Skinner, “Dallas Cops Shoot Mentally ill man who Refused to Stop Twiddling Screwdriver” March 17, 2015 http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/watch-dallas-cops-shoot-mentally-ill-man-who-refused-to-stop-twiddling-screwdriver/

Student Researcher: Arianna D’Aquila, Indian River State College

Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College

Ethical Alert

This story raises the ongoing issue of racial profiling where a white officer shoots an African American man without a convincing reason. In the present case, the victim was mentally ill, suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. All Jason Harrison appeared to be doing was twiddling a screwdriver, asked once to put it down, and without even giving him a chance to put it down, the two officers shot, not once, but several times. Let us remember that he was in the middle of a mental crisis because the mother asked for him to be taken to a hospital. Since he was mentally ill, he probably could not comprehend things as fast as other people might. Add to that fact, that since he did have schizophrenia, he heard the officers demanding that he put down a simple tool plus the voices in his head. You cannot just ask a person once to put something down especially a man like Harrison. Even if it were me, I think it would take me more than a couple seconds to put a screwdriver down. Who knows what happened before the mother called; he was probably still in crisis mode, perhaps not even realizing that two cops are yelling at him.

Harrison had no history of violence, so the officer’s action was not justified at all. One of the officers’ stated that Harrison lunged at him causing him to open fire. Although, the video aims away from Harrison for about four seconds, I find it kind of hard to believe that Harrison had time to lunge at the officer. Even if the officers did feel threatened, they had other means of self-defense such as Tasers and batons, instead they drew their firearms.