Mental health experts react to viral video



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The viral video has been seen on Facebook and You Tube more than 300,000 times. Earlier this month, police confronted a naked man walking in central Fresno. After not listening orders to stop, he is Tased.

Sources tell GV Wire the man had mental issues. We asked some mental health advocates their thoughts.

“It didn’t seem very dignified and it didn’t seem very respectful. You can’t know exactly what took place in that interaction. If that’s what the police said, that he was threatening, I take that with a grain of salt,” Dr. Juan C. Garcia, Clinical Program Director with the Integral Community Solutions Institute, tells GV Wire. “It just seems like overkill.”

Christina Roup is the executive director of NAMI- the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “The best practices (are) we want to see it de-escalate. If that was my family member, I would be crushed. I’m heartbroken that an individual had to be Tased. It seems so unfair. We see a man unclothed, nude, the most vulnerable in our…society.”

Both Roup and Garcia understand that only a snippet of the video exists and other factors may have been in play that is not shown on video.

There is a relatively new state law passed in 2015 to address police officer training when dealing with the mentally ill. AB 29 requires police instructors’ additional crisis intervention behavioral training on dealing with persons with mental illness or disability. It will be fully in effect by July 2017.

“I question all those officers whether they had been trained in crisis intervention,” opines Garcia. “Those who had been trained would deal with it differently.”

Roup says three steps are needed when police deal with the mentally ill: compassion, patience and time.  Garcia would prefer another method, either continued dialogue, calling in a mental health expert or the police using light force to guide the suspect in a police car or ambulance.

GV Wire asked repeatedly for a follow up response from Fresno Police. We will provide that when it becomes available. Mayor Lee Brand said he had not seen the video at the time GV Wire asked him about it.

E-mail David Taub


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