INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 13, 2015) – The metro police officers who were involved in Saturday’s deadly shooting on the northeast side of Indianapolis would soon learn mental health was a predominate factor in a dangerous encounter, that was all captured on cell phone video.
Officers shot and killed Christopher Goodlaw, who officers said was armed with a knife.
“He’s been doing really good,” Denise Wilbourn said, Goodlaw’s aunt. “He hasn’t had outbursts in a while, so he’s been doing really good. So we don’t know what happen.”
Family members said Goodlaw suffered from bipolar and schizophrenia.
“To shoot him down and kill him, that wasn’t right,” Wilbourn said.
The cell phone video captured the attempt to deescalate the situation, first by ordering him to drop his weapon numerous times, and also trying to tackle Goodlaw and shock him with a stun gun.
As Goodlaw lunged toward an officer, two IMPD officers fired their guns.
“No officer puts on his uniform with his weapon with the idea, let me see how many people I’m going to shoot today,” IMPD Chief Rick Hite said in an interview hours after the shooting. “We have to live with this.”
Hite personally arrived on scene Saturday, trying to calm a distraught family and watch what led his officers to shoot a man suffering from mental illness. Hite said this is an issue his department and community can’t ignore, adding his officers routinely undergo crisis training for mental health.
“I just think it comes a point when we have to ask ourselves, when we try our best to talk about mental health, how important it is, is to have this conversation before we get to these areas,” he said. “What happens when we arrive on scene when we have no other choice?”
Hite, who’s departing as chief at the end of the month, said he plans to continue working with local law enforcement and mental health professionals.
“I plan to continue to be passionate about this,” Hite said. “I have for the past 37 years about how we treat our community, how we engage our community.”