National News

Tulsa police fatally shoot mentally ill man

Posted June 10

A mental health call turned into a deadly shooting in Oklahoma when three law enforcement officers confronted a knife-wielding man outside a convenience store, the Tulsa County sheriff's department said.

Two deputies and one Tulsa police officer opened fire and shot 29-year-old Joshua Barre on Friday morning. He was taken to a hospital where he later died, the sheriff's office said.

"My son was mentally ill and they didn't have to kill my son," Barre's mother Etta Jones Barre told CNN affiliate KTUL. "They could have done something different."

"He was probably frightened for his life, but my son was not a violent person," she said.

Deputies with the county's mental health team had gone to Barre's home earlier on Friday to take him into custody for a mental health evaluation. But when they arrived, a neighbor told them Barre was in the street holding two large knives, the sheriff's office said.

Police received four 911 calls about a man walking with "two butcher knives" and who was threatening people, officials said.

When deputies found Barre, they ordered him to drop the knives, but he walked away.

"Fearing that he would enter a convenience store and endangering the public, commands were given to him to stop and not enter the store," the sheriff's office said in a news release.

A confrontation ensued at the entrance to the convenience store. A deputy used a stun gun on Barre but "it had no effect," then two deputies and one police officer fired at him, the sheriff's office said.

It's not clear how many times Barre was shot.

The two deputies and one officer have been placed on routine administrative leave, pending the ongoing investigation, officials said.

Past interactions with police

It was not the first time deputies had gone to Barre's home. Since last week, authorities interacted or attempted to contact at least three times, officials said.

On June 1, deputies left Barre's home after reporting that Barre was "armed with a hammer and yelled threats" at them.

"He did not pose an immediate threat to the public," the sheriff's office said.

On Monday, a neighbor said Barre had been up the previous night and scared her children. Deputies said they couldn't find him that day.

Deputies found Barre alone in his home on Wednesday at which time he threatened to kill officers, but they did not force entry. Deputies said he posed no immediate threat to the public, according to the sheriff's office. They then left the scene.

Tension intensifies

Officers wearing helmets and shields, yellow tape and dozens of police cars flanked the store while a crowd of approximately 25-30 people were shouting at them.

"It could've been me. It could've been a relative of mine. It doesn't make any sense, man. It has to stop," Carl Tate told CNN affiliate KTUL.

The shooting was followed by a protest outside the northern Tulsa store that grew to about 300 people.

"This incident required a more robust response than normal due to large crowds and the actions that were being taken against officers," the sheriff's office said some protesters were throwing rocks and pieces of concrete at officers.

The crowd dispersed after several hours with the help of community leaders and local ministers.

Previous police shootings

Barre's death reignited tensions in a city where many black residents don't trust law enforcement's interaction with black men.

In 2016, a jury found a volunteer sheriff's deputy guilty of second-degree manslaughter Wednesday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed suspect.

About three weeks ago, a jury acquitted Tulsa police Officer Betty Shelby in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man.

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma called both Tulsa Police Department and the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office to turn the investigation to independent agency saying they have serious doubts about the capability of local law enforcement to investigate the incident.

"Failure to do so will continue to erode the already fragile trust that exists between Tulsa's law enforcement and many of the communities they are sworn to serve," said ACLU of Oklahoma director Ryan Kiesel.

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