Justin Way in happier times
Kaitlyn Christine Lyons arrived at her house to find her boyfriend drunk and distraught about losing his job and his sobriety. She called a non-emergency police number seeking help and then the unthinkable happened:
Minutes later, two St. Johns County Sheriff’s deputies, 26-year-old Jonas Carballosa and 32-year-old Kyle Braig, arrived at the home, armed with assault rifles, and told Kaitlyn to wait outside.
“I thought they were going into war,” she remembered thinking when she first saw the large guns. Within moments, Justin was shot dead.
Kaitlyn said she never felt threatened. Police say Justin tried to attack them with a knife. Justin's family rejects their narrative:
“If Justin was coming after them with a knife, at 6-foot-4, wouldn’t there be blood splattered all over the room?” George said.
Way’s parents brought Justin’s mattress to the curb after his death. George says he believes there was a bullet dug out of the bed from a hole found in the middle of it. He also said the blood was contained entirely within the mattress, and that it did not hit the walls or the floor.
Sad for everyone involved. Nationwide mentally ill people are being killed at the hands of police on a far too regular basis. Tanisha Anderson in Cleveland, Ohio.
Gino Rodriquez in Midland, Texas.
Wilfredo Justiniano in Quincy, Massachusetts
. The list goes on and on and it is becoming increasingly clear that we need a national conversation and more humane solutions when police are dealing with the mentally ill. When a call, like the one Kaitlyn made on behalf of Justin, comes into a suicide hotline, why send the cavalry and not a mental health professional? Or some combination thereof? As Madison, Wisconsin's police chief notes, it's time for change:
Now is the time we must ask questions about the policies surrounding the use of deadly force, how police are trained and lead, their attitudes surrounding the taking of a life, and what they are going to do to assure their communities that this will cease; that is, their moral duty?