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Lawyer says Austin police officers severely injured his client during a mental health call

Lawyer says Austin police officers severely injured his client during a mental health call

by: Yoojin Cho

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Community Law Center announced it filed a lawsuit against the Austin Police Department. The nonprofit claims several APD officers severely injured its client, James (Jim) Templeton, during a mental health call.

Brian McGiverin, Executive Director of Austin Community Law Center, said, “Although it was a mental health call, officers approached our client from concealment, held him at gunpoint and violently wrenched his shoulder during handcuffing, ignoring his cries for pain for hours.”

Austin Community Law Center alleges Austin Police officers severely injured a man during a mental health call. (Austin Community Law Center Photo.)

Templeton shared his story with KXAN News. He said this all happened two years ago, November 2017, when someone called and asked APD to check on him.

When he got home, he said “several Austin police officers jumped from my bushes and attacked me at gunpoint.”

Templeton said when he was put into handcuffs, the officers twisted his arm so hard, “they ripped my rotator cuff, my bicep tendon, and my labral tendon.”

He continued, “I had done nothing wrong. They were sent to do a mental welfare check.”

Waiting for a mental health officer

Templeton said once the officers handcuffed him, even though he asked for medical help, he didn’t receive any, and he had to wait two hours for a mental health officer to arrive.

According to APD’s policy, “if the incident is an emergency involving a person in mental health crisis, a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officer will be dispatched as the primary responding officer. If a CIT officer is not available, any patrol officer will be dispatched immediately and a CIT officer will respond as soon as possible.”

The manual adds, the following incidents require the response of a CIT officer:

  • Any situation where the responding officer believes that a person’s mental health is adversely affecting the persons behavior.

  • Any request from a member of the community for a CIT officer.

  • Mental health related calls from a facility/provider that furnishes services on behalf of the mental health community.

  • Any health care facility or emergency room request for assistance relating to a person suspected of a mental illness.

Templeton said he told the responding officers he wasn’t going to harm himself, and he wasn’t experiencing a mental health crisis. He said, the officers still used a peace officer emergency detention and took him to a mental health treatment facility.