NAACP Director Files Complaint Against Eugene Police
The Executive Director of the NAACP in Lane County says Eugene Police used excessive force on his sister after she tried to stop an officer from deploying a stun gun on her 19-year-old son. EPD is conducting an internal investigation.
Ayisha Brown called police early on the morning of July 16th saying her 19-year old son was having a psychotic break. Police provided audio from a patrol car camera.
Eric Richardson, the president of the local chapter of the NAACP arrived at his sister's house during the police interaction. He says police brutally threw his sister to the ground after she tried to prevent them from tasing her son. He wonders if the cops would have behaved differently if they were dealing with a white family.
Richardson: "I'm in a dilemma because this is my family. This is personal. And it really hits home to my kids, her kids, the well-being of our community but at the same time being the president of the NAACP, I feel there's an obligation to work with the police and to have a constant voice of reason."
Richardson filed a complaint. He's also met with Eugene Police Chief Pete Kerns, who says an internal investigation is underway.
Kerns: "The allegations of misconduct have been made about the level of force that was used on the son by the officers and the level of force that was used on Ayisha, the mom. So that's what we're experts at investigating."
Kerns does not think race played a part in the incident. he acknowledges that despite training, police are not the ideal responders to people in mental health crisis.
Kerns: "We wish, I wish, our officers weren’t going to those calls. I wish someone who was uniquely trained for handling people in crisis were handling all those calls for service and our officers instead are working on reducing crime and making Eugene safer from the criminal conduct that occurs."
Brown had hoped CAHOOTS would respond to her call instead of police, but the mobile crisis response unit cannot afford to operate 24 hours a day. The problem of coping with people with mental issues may be one of funding. Eric Richardson says he wants to help police to do better.
Richardson: "This is why I'm encouraged that Police Chief Kerns is willing to talk with us and willing to talk about change that can come out of this."
That early morning in July, Richardson's sister Ayisha Brown was arrested but charges against her were later dropped. Her son was taken to the Sacred Heart University Medical Center's Johnson Unit, which provides mental health treatment.