SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The Salt Lake City Police Department handles 3000 mental health calls a year. That’s over 8 per day. Only a small percentage of those turn deadly like the one that happened Monday at the Sunrise Metro Apartments.
The SLCPD says that incident began with a call to assist a man having a mental health episode and the officer who fired the shots had training in dealing with mental health-related incidents.
“He is a patrol officer,” Sgt. Brandon Shearer said. “I believe he is also certified as a Crisis Intervention Team member.”
CIT members are taught communication and de-escalation skills to diffuse potentially explosive situations, like an April 18th, 2018 incident when Salt Lake officers confronted 32-year-old Delorean Pikyavit, a domestic violence suspect who was holding a knife and half a pair of scissors.
“Delorean, it’s not a time to play games right now. Okay?” an officer can be heard saying on a police bodycam video.
Ginger Phillips is a Mental Health Patient Advocate and a Certified Counselor who says officers mishandled the situation by giving Pikyavit confusing commands and fatally shooting him when he didn’t comply.
“That bodycam footage was heartbreaking,” Phillip said. “Seeing the man and how he was acting and the police officer saying you know ‘It’s not time to play games’ and I was like he was not playing games. He has a mental illness and it was obvious to me…I almost started crying because I wanted to go help. I wanted to tell the officers ‘If you would have had the training that guy would not be dead’.”
Phillips wants every law enforcement agency in the state to have the same mandatory crisis intervention training.
The SLCPD does not participate in the state run CIT program but Detective Joseph Taylor tells ABC4 News they do their own training and every officer has it at the Police Academy.
“The training is just as rigorous,” Det. Taylor said. “It’s the same material. Like we the CIT program we utilize instructors from the University of Utah. We do site visits to the State Hospital…It’s as rigorous as any training you’re going to find.”
The SLCPD is expected to release body camera video of Monday’s shooting within the next 9 days. The investigation is being handled by the Salt Lake Unified Police Department
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