12/29/2005

Police shoot mentally ill man in Columbus, OH

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5 tips for approaching the emotionally disturbed

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio

A deputy shot a mentally ill African immigrant to death when he allegedly lunged with a knife at officers who had come to take him to a psychiatric center, authorities said.

An angry crowd gathered in the northeast Columbus neighborhood after the shooting Wednesday of Nair Abdi, 23, an immigrant from Somalia. Four Franklin County deputies had been sent to his home because his family said he had stopped taking his medication and had become delusional.

Abdi refused to go and lunged at the deputies with a knife, said Lt. Brent Mull, Columbus police spokesman. When Mace didn't stop Abdi and he lunged again, one of the deputies shot him, police said.

"A knife is one of the most deadly weapons we come up against," Mull said.

Columbus police called to the scene were confronted by members of the crowd screaming, "cold-blooded killers!" More officers had to be summoned to help disperse the crowd.

"They could have wounded him," said Liban Abdi, the victim's brother. "They could have shot him in the leg, in the arm, anything else."

The four deputies were placed on leave pending an investigation. Mull said it appeared they took the right steps in first attempting a peaceful surrender.

An order for Abdi to be taken to a psychiatric center had been issued Wednesday after a health-care worker said he was "a danger to himself or others," said William Reddington, chief magistrate of Franklin County Probate Court.

The family emigrated to the United States in 1999 and Abdi later started showing signs of mental illness, his brother said.

"He would say the television was made by the devil, cars were made by the devil," Liban Abdi said. The brother said he spent six months in the hospital earlier this year but had stopped taking medication after complaining that it made him feel weak and sleepy.

The shooting came two days after a knife-wielding New Orleans man, Anthony Hayes, was shot after a confrontation with officers that was partially videotaped by onlookers.

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