Officers defend shooting of mentally ill man

January 6, 2009 3:18:58 PM PST
Nearly eight years after La Porte police shot and killed a man in his backyard, the family is taking the officers to court.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The family said police overreacted when they were called out to help the mentally ill man in 2001. On Tuesday, the jury heard two very different versions of what happened.

One of the officers testified that when the police responded to the 911 call, they responded knowing there was an emotionally disturbed person. That evidence is being used by the family's attorney believe that the officers used excessive force.

"Their son, Bob Meadours, was killed when it was not legally justified and violated his constitutional rights to be free from excessive force," said Jeff Mundy, the family's attorney.

Mundy called the medical examiner who performed the autopsy to testify first. The doctor told the jury he found 14 bullet wounds in the 38-year-old man's body.

"He was shot in the back repetitively by these officers. They all say Meadours was charging at them and the evidence shows that, in fact, he doesn't have holes in his front side, he has them in the back side," said Mundy.

Meadours also had a wound to his head which the doctor considered one of the most severe.

It was Meadour's own sister who called 911 the night of his death. She asked dispatchers to send a mental health expert because her brother was experiencing severe mental problems.

The La Porte officers responded and claim that when they approached Bob Meadours in the family's darkened backyard, he charged at them with a screwdriver. In fear for their lives, the officers fired on the man.

Meadour often hallucinated that the devil, who he called 'Stan,' was trying to get him. Before the fatal rounds were fired, one of the officers did shoot him with two bean bag bullet rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun.

Their attorney, Bill Helfan called what happened a tragedy and said in a statement, "This case has been examined multiple times, every step of the way the officers have been exonerated."

The shooting death of Bob Meadours led to the passing of the Bob Meadours Act. Previously, only new law enforcement recruits were required to receive training in crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques for dealing with people with mental illnesses. The law now requires that training for all officers.

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