Category: Weird Articles
Published on Tuesday, 02 June 2015 00:00
Written by Cheryl Teo Kai Lin
Justin Way was in bed with suicidal thoughts and a knife. His panicky girlfriend called a suicide helpline as she was at a lost of what to do. Minutes later, cops shot Justin dead.
On 11 May, Justin Way was drinking at his apartment in Florida and threatening to hurt himself. His father George Way, said his son was a recovering alcoholic and had been alcohol-free for five weeks until he met with some bad luck.
“He just lost his job, and he had a setback,” George explained.
Justin's live-in girlfriend, Kaitlyn Christine Lyons, said she caught Justin drinking a bottle of vodka. She snatched the bottle away and poured the contents out. She said that he was intoxicated and lying in their bed with a large knife, ominously repeating that he would hurt himself with it. Kaitlyn called a non-emergency number in an attempt to get her boyfriend to a local hospital for help, and she specifically told them that she did not feel that her life was in danger, only his.
“My brother has been Baker Acted three times because he was threatening to hurt himself so I figured that would happen with Justin,” said Kaitlyn. Florida’s Baker Act allows the involuntary institutionalization of an individual, and it can be initiated by law enforcement officials.
“The only person Justin threatened was himself and I honestly don’t think he wanted to die,” she added.
Minutes after Kaitlyn put down the phone, two St. Johns County Sheriff's deputies, 26-year-old Jonas Carballosa and 32-year-old Kyle Braig, arrived at the scene, armed with assault rifles, and told Kaitlyn to wait outside.
“I thought they were going into war,” she remembered thinking when she first saw the large guns. Within moments, Justin was shot dead.
George Way said the initial report he received from Detective Mike Smith detailed an incident wherein his officers said they were attacked by Justin with a knife. George said that the detective told him Justin had threatened Kaitlyn. But apparently according to Kaitlyn, this did not happen.
Denise Way, Justin's mother, said that Detective Smith relayed to her that “they told Justin to drop the knife and he didn't – so they shot him because 'that's what we do'.”
Denise recounted how the detective then told her about “this new trend in law enforcement now – it’s called suicide by cop.” She said Smith explained “suicide by cop” is when suicidal people provoke the police in an effort to end their own lives.
Denise also said that the detective refused to disclose to her and the family where and how many times their son was shot.
Justin's parents do not believe their son was a threat to anyone, because they think Justin was shot while still lying in bed.
“If Justin was coming after them with a knife, at 6-foot-4, wouldn’t there be blood splattered all over the room?” George said.
Justin's parents brought his mattress out to the curb following his demise. After some inspection, George believes that one of the policemen dug out a bullet from the mattress because there was an empty hole found in the middle of it. He also said the blood was contained entirely within the mattress, and that it did not splatter the walls or the floor.
In a phone interview with Commander Chuck Mulligan of the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, The Daily Beast asked if it was standard procedure to bring assault rifles, but not mental health professionals, to a scene where someone is suicidal.
“If the deputies feel that that is the appropriate weapon system to use, then yes,” said Mulligan.
If the deputies used tasers and one prong missed, Mulligan said, they might be left in a difficult and potentially dangerous situation.
“They were in a very tight space within a residence,” he said.
Mulligan added that the difference between an assault rifle and a handgun would not have affected the outcome in Justin Way’s case.
“Whether it’s a rifle or not, in many senses, is a non-issue,” he said. “A bullet comes out of a handgun, a bullet comes out of a rifle.”
On Facebook, Jonas Carballosa, the second deputy involved in the Justin Way shooting, once posted the following quote: “Most people respect the badge. Everyone respects the gun.
However, Justin's parents have lost all respect and trust in the law enforcement authorities and stated that they do not ever want to call the police again for anything.
Kaitlyn hopes the police will rethink guns being used in suicidal cases, where the only threat the suicidal person pose is to himself.
“I think they should come in using other things,” she said. “And I think they definitely need to figure out how to handle suicidal people.”
There have been numerous incidents of trigger-happy cops in the U.S. who shoot down innocent people and try to cover up their mistakes with lame excuses. The U.S. talks so much about the war of terror from other countries, but perhaps they should focus on the war of terror in their own country first from authorities abusing their power before moving on to other countries.