Police have killed yet another black person in mental health distress, this time in State College, Pa. The most galling part of this tragedy, though, is that the officers were attempting to serve a “mental health warrant.”
On Wednesday, State County borough police shot and killed 29-year-old Osaze Osagie in what Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers is classifying as a homicide, reports the Centre Daily.
The Centre Daily reports:
State College police officers were attempting to serve a mental health warrant Wednesday on Osagie at the Marvin Garden apartment complex on Old Boalsburg Road when an officer fatally opened fire, State College police Chief John Gardner said.
According to a state police at Rockview search warrant, Osagie brandished a knife and “came after the officers.” Four spent 9 mm casings, a stun gun and a bullet fragment were among the items seized from the apartment, according to the affidavit.
The involved borough officers were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. However, the officer’s names have not been released at this time.
On Friday, after the autopsy, Coroner Sayers declined to comment on the number or locations of the wounds and deferred all questions to the state police and District Attorney.
However, a public information officer with the state police department said he could not reveal that information because of a “pretty lengthy and involved investigation.”
On the day of the shooting, State College Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said the borough is committed to an “independent, transparent” investigation.
Pennsylvania State Police Sgt. William Slaton, a commander within the Equality and Inclusion Office, attended a candlelight vigil for Osage and met with community leaders.
“With this investigation, I just want to reassure the community that I am going to be taking a look at the investigation to make sure everything was conducted thoroughly,” Slaton said to reporters. “We handle incidents similar to this quite often for local police departments that request our assistance.”
Slaton pledged transparency and also noted that he had his hands full with another high profile police killing in the state but promised to cover this one as well.
“We’re expending every resource possible for this investigation,” said Slaton. “Right now, I’m currently dedicated to Pittsburgh for the former (East Pittsburgh) police officer Michael Rosfeld trial. They told me what was going on out here; I dropped what I was doing and drove almost three hours to get out here. So that’s how much of a priority it is for us. This is very important for us.”
As reported earlier by The Root, Rosfeld is on trial in the shooting death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose II.
People with a history of mental illness have greater chances to interact with the police. The Washington Post reports that 1 in 4 people with mental illness has a history of police arrest, and according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, the odds of being killed during a police encounter are 16 times as high for individuals with untreated serious mental illness as they are for people in the broader population.
Also, 20 percent of those killed by police were having a known mental health crisis.