Police shooting of suicidal man illustrates challenge IMPD faces responding to mental health issues

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- An Indianapolis father is recovering after being wounded during an officer-involved shooting early Thursday morning.

Police say he was threatening to harm himself and officers when he was shot by police inside his own home on the city’s northwest side.

The person who called police to the home said the father was suicidal.

Police say the suicidal man stepped out from behind a bedroom door and threatened to harm police.

One IMPD officer shot the man in the head. The man survived and investigators on scene admitted confronting people with mental health issues is a daily test for law enforcement.

“Just last year alone, we took over 3-thousand calls, particularly in the east district surrounded around mental health. So it certainly is a challenge for us,” said IMPD Sgt. Kendale Adams.

Sgt. Adams says the IMPD is continually improving how it responds to patients with mental health needs, and while training officers to assist people in a mental crisis is nothing new, less than a month ago the city did launch a pilot program on the east side teaming IMPD with IEMS paramedics and crisis specialists from Eskenazi.

The Mobile Crisis Assistance Teams, MCAT for short, ride around the east side helping refer mental health patients to services instead of simply putting them behind bars.

“We’re all working together to find innovative ways to respond to these runs with ways that can help people find better ways to cope with issues,” said IMPD Sgt. Catherine Cummings.

Sgt. Cummings oversees the MCAT program and says since the MCAT vans began making runs on the last day of July, they've already responded to 101 patients, with a few people being helped on more than one occasion. Cummings says it's important to de-stigmatize mental health problems.

“I think if we can bring it to the open and let people know it’s okay to talk about, we’re going to have a healthier Indianapolis and that’s our ultimate goal,” said Cummings.

As for this shooting, the suicidal man was taken to the hospital in serious condition but is expected to survive.

Two of the officers involved in the shooting have been placed on routine leave while the case is investigated.