December 14, 2015

Family: Man Killed By Police Over Weekend Had Mental Illness

WFYI News file photo

WFYI News file photo

INDIANAPOLIS -- The family of a man fatally shot by Indianapolis police officers over the weekend has told police he suffered from a mental illness.

Family members told police that 25-year-old Christopher Goodlow was schizophrenic, according to IMPD spokesman Lt. Rick Riddle. "However, we're relying on the family to give us that assessment and that diagnosis," Riddle said.

Goodlow died Saturday afternoon when he was shot by two officers after refusing to drop a knife, an incident captured on video by a witness. Police encountered him at an apartment complex near the intersection of East 38th Street and Franklin Road, bloodied and wearing just underwear, wielding a knife and reportedly acting suicidal.

Riddle said it’s hard to know if Goodlow would have followed commands from a family member or mental health professional. "And that’s the unfortunate things that go along with these mental health crisis that officers are faced with," Riddle said Monday. "What is reasonable at that time and what resources do we have right now that we can get to the scene to deal with that situation."

Four officers were on scene for 10 minutes before two of them shot Goodlow, surrounding him in the street. Prior to using lethal force, an officer tried to tackle Goodlow and tasers were used twice. But Goodlow did not back down and was shot three times when he lunged at an officer for the second time.

"So at point, looking through the lens of the officers that were there that day, what would and what is reasonable for that officer to do next," RIddle said.

All new IMPD recruits go through crisis intervention training to learn how to better interact with mentally ill people. The two officers that fired their weapons were veterans officers and it's unknown if they had CIT training.

The video shot by the citizen was posted quickly to social media. "We had the opportunity to view that incident from the officers' perspective, or at least from a persepctive that we traditionally don't," Riddle said, which allowed for an expedited investigation.

But Riddle said that's also how Goodlow's family found out about the incident.

"[Goodlow's] family viewed that on Facebook, saw their loved-one die literally in front of their eyes and rushed to the scene," Riddle said, "without us being to do our due diligence and notify that family and do it the right way."

Saturday's officer-involved shooting incited outrage from onlookers and a police cruiser was damaged. It was the second IMPD officer-involved shooting in less than a week and the 20th this year.

Contact Ryan: 317.489.4491 | | @rpatrickdelaney 

Support independent journalism today. You rely on WFYI to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Donate to power our nonprofit reporting today. Give now.


Related News

Some city trails will soon be safer for cyclists and pedestrians
Turmoil on Indianapolis Public Library board continues
Construction set to begin on a first-of-its-kind community bridge