Sheriff says man shot by deputy was previously brought in for mental health reasons


San Antonio – A man gunned down by a Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy on Thursday had been taken away for mental health care several times, Sheriff Javier Salazar said, prompting him to ask: “Why was he even here so that we can contact him today? “

Nicholas Norris, 38, was shot dead near the intersection of Potranco Road and Sundance Crest, just outside the 1604 Loop, on Thursday after a chase.

Salazar said an employee who had stopped for a break at a convenience store was told by an employee that there was a man outside who had “scared” customers on previous days.

When the deputy went to talk to Norris, he drove off in an SUV, Salazar said. The deputy sued him at first, but the lawsuit was called off.

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However, Salazar said MPs later saw Norris driving erratically on Potranco Road and made contact with him. There was a fight, however, and an assistant shot Norris in the side.

Norris later died on his way to the hospital.

Salazar said law enforcement had already taken Norris to hospital – for mental health assistance – and seemed to be wondering why he wasn’t always there.

“We think we know who he is,” Salazar told reporters Thursday before Norris’ identity was released. “If this is him, we have evidence that he has been in contact with mental health units and mental health issues on several occasions over the past two weeks.

I know our SMART team looked after him at one point and we believe he was taken to the hospital at that point, surrendered, “Salazar said Thursday, referring to the ‘County mental health team. “We think another agency, I think it was SAPD, may have had ED in the past two weeks. What begs the question for me is’ why is “He even here if the law enforcement did what we’re supposed to do? We’re supposed to take these people out for help. It seems like it’s been done at least twice. Why is he even here?” ?

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An “ED”, or emergency detention, is a procedure that allows law enforcement to place a person in detention for assessment in a mental health facility, without a warrant, if they believe the person has the condition. ‘a mental illness and poses an immediate danger to herself or to others. .

While his comments seemed to indicate that Norris had voluntarily attended the hospital with the SMART team, Salazar subsequently referred to Norris as an “E-D’d” by both the SMART team and SAPD.

The specific details of Norris’ case are unclear beyond what Salazar told reporters on Thursday.

On Friday, the BCSO information office did not respond to a request for more detailed information about Norris’ previous contacts with law enforcement, and the SAPD information office did not confirm whether his agents had taken Norris to a hospital in emergency detention, as Salazar said.

Even if they had, there was no sign in Bexar County Court’s online files of a judge allowing him to be detained, indicating that doctors must have released him in 72 hours.

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Doug Beach, president of the San Antonio branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), said the decision to keep someone for treatment is a medical one.

“So the sheriff’s question is, ‘Well, once they’re in, why are we letting them out again?’ Well, again, this is a medical decision on the part of the medical staff. And if they feel like this person doesn’t need to be detained, they won’t, ”Beach said.

Once the police or MPs bring someone to the hospital, the rest is out of their hands. Doctors determine whether they want to release or detain a person for further treatment, depending on whether they believe the person is both mentally ill and a danger to themselves or to others.

To keep them in detention on this basis, the institution must submit documents within 48 hours of requesting a custody order. For the patient to be detained beyond 72 hours, a judge must accept him in a probable cause hearing.

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Public mental health advocates represent people at these hearings, focusing on what their client wants, even if it is not what their doctor recommends.

“We represent the best interest of the individual, not the best interest of the community or the best interest of the patient,” said Chief Public Advocate Michael Young.

Even if the order is granted, the head of the San Antonio branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says most people end up being released within 14 days.

“There are provisions that allow a person to obtain long-term care. But, you know, it’s not that common and it’s harder to come by, ”Beach said.

Once someone is released, Beach says, they will still be assigned a follow-up plan.

“If they don’t follow through on that, of course you know they can end up on the streets or cause a problem,” he said.

It is quite possible that the whole process should be started over again.

CLICK HERE for a more in-depth look at the emergency detention and long-term engagement process.

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