But For Video: Who’s Mentally Ill?

The initial word was that police were called in to help stop a “riot” at the Citrus Center for Adolescent Treatment Service in Pembroke Pines, Florida.  It was a facility for severely mentally ill adolescents, which should have been the first clue for the cops that they weren’t dealing with people who would respond to their authority in the manner they usually demand. That’s the nature of mental illness.

Yet, the notion that these were sicks kids didn’t seep into one (unnamed) cop’s head.

As the police explain it, this 14-year-old girl attacked the police officer first, punching him.  Of course, the video shows something slightly different.

When someone inexplicably grabs a person’s arm, it should be reasonably expected that the person will resist.  When the person whose arm is grabbed suffers from severe mental illness, one should reasonably expect a reaction, much as this child reacted in the video. What cannot be expected is for a police officer to haul off and punch her with full force, as violently as he possibly can, in retaliation for her attempt to swat him away. From the Sun-Sentinel:

“The cop hauled back to Minnesota and hit her in the face,” {Broward Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon H.] Weekes said. He said his client is a 14-year-old orphan from Central Florida who is an asthmatic and depressed over the deaths of her parents, which happened several years ago.

What a tough police officer, punching a young girl in the face because she didn’t passively submit to his touching her body for no apparent reason.

While police misapprehend, with unfortunate regularity, the actions and reactions of people who suffer from disabilities or mental illness, it’s often a result of their inability to identify conditions that most of us commonly appreciate in our daily lives.  Police, always more concerned about any threat to their own safety or, in too many of these situations, their fragile egos, prefer to turn to violence first and figure out an excuse to justify it later. To be less than docile and complaint is to court a damn fine beating, no matter who you are or what the issue. And that’s the express lesson law enforcement means to teach.

But they knew they were at a psychiatric facility. The police knew walking in that the adolescents in there weren’t being contemptuous, per se, but were mentally ill. There is no hiding from the fact that there was no excuse, short of abject stupidity or their own pathologic tendencies, for gratuitously beating a patient at the facility.

But that didn’t stop this cop.

Curiously, the punch began an investigation into the facility which revealed that instead of doing much of anything to help these kids, the understaffed facility was injecting them with drugs to warehouse them quietly.

The facility houses female patients, ages 14 to 17, who have emotional, behavioral and psychological issues, Weekes said. They are not criminal offenders, and some are victims of emotional or physical abuse or are wards of the state, according to Weekes.

He accused Citrus Center of not managing patients well and said there are frequent fights.

“This mental health facility is simply tying down and knocking out [with medication] little girls who behave in accordance with their mental illness,” Weekes wrote.

A call seeking comment from the Citrus Center was not returned.

Patients call the injections “booty-juice,” because of where they receive the shots, Weekes said.

He claimed in his letter, “it is believed several girls intentionally engage in misbehavior” in order to get the medication that gets them high.

Shades of Willowbrook. What emerges from this story is that we remain a long way from fulfilling our obligation to care for children, for the mentally ill under normal circumstances.  And to add insult to injury, introducing police into the scenario of mentally ill girls produced an outrageous demonstration of violence.

Unlike Willowbrook, however, the attention this situation has garnered has remained relatively local and limited.  After all, who cares about the mistreatment of mentally ill young ladies beaten by police anymore? But it all begs one question: between the 14-year-old girl and the unnamed Pembroke Pines police officer, which one was more mentally ill?





3 comments on “But For Video: Who’s Mentally Ill?

    1. SHG Post author

      Well, you know how dangerous 14-year-old girls on forced psychtropic medications can be with their blank, empty eyes. Must have scared the cop out his wits to think she wasn’t totally docile and reacted to his needless and uninvited touch.

Comments are closed.