Group calls for mental health expert evaluation of APD procedure - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Group calls for mental health expert evaluation of APD procedures

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APD's recent officer-involved shooting death of a suicidal mental illness patient is drawing some criticism.

Friday, the Chief fired back.

The Chief says the department is doing a good job when responding to the mentally ill. He doesn't want anyone to hesitate to call for help. No matter what his critics say.

This is all in response to the death of 54-year-old Herbert Babelay. On Tuesday night a family member called 9-1-1 saying Babelay was threatening to kill himself and others.

Friends later told us, Babelay suffered from a mental illness and had stopped taking his medication.

Officers on the scene said Babelay went into a shed, grabbed a rifle and aimed it at them. All four officers fired shots, killing babelay and are now on leave.

In response, Jim Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project requested the city appoint an independent police mental health expert to evaluate APD procedures.

Harrington accused the department of not using any de-escalation techniques in Babelay's case and said apd has a very bad record of not using those techniques and as a result, killing people.

Chief Art Acevedo said it was not a mental health call, but a public safety call because Babelay threatened to kill others.

Chief says police responded appropriately.

"Had these officers had the luxury and the opportunity to wait for the next steps for our mental health partners to show up and for SWAT to show up and for everyone else to show up to try and bring this situation to closure we would have not had this outcome. Unfortunately this outcome was a direct result of an individual who decided to come out, confront officers who were there and raise a loaded firearm at them," Acevedo said.

"Austin police have been going through this paper mental health training, but when you see it on the street it's clear that there's not real change yet. We saw that in the recent killing. Officers don't understand the escalation. When somebody is mentally ill you don't end up in a confrontational situation with them because they're going to react to that. And you're going to see what happened, happen, people get shot or killed," Harrington said.

Acevedo does have 144 Crisis Intervention Officers that work in plain clothes and respond to mental illness calls. All officers receive 40 hours of mental health training.

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