What do you do if a friend of family member hasn’t responded to your attempt to communicate for a while? What do you do if you think a friend of family member might be suicidal? In these cases it’s not entirely uncommon from concerned parties to call 911 and ask emergency personnel to perform a wellness check. However, most of the time when you call 911 law enforcers are dispatched and that can turn a wellness check into a very dangerous situation.
Apparently some concerned party, the law enforcers involved are being cagey about the specifics, were concerned about Chelsea Manning after she posted some tweets that sounded suicidal and called in for a wellness check. In response law enforcers officers stormed her home with guns drawn:
Shortly after Chelsea Manning posted what appeared to be two suicidal tweets on May 27, police broke into her home with their weapons drawn as if conducting a raid, in what is known as a “wellness” or “welfare check” on a person experiencing a mental health crisis. Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst turned whistleblower and U.S. Senate candidate, was not at home, but video obtained by The Intercept shows officers pointing their guns as they searched her empty apartment.
The footage, captured by a security camera, shows an officer with the Montgomery County Police Department in Bethesda, Maryland, knocking on Manning’s door. When no one responds, the officer pops the lock, and three officers enter the home with their guns drawn, while a fourth points a Taser. The Intercept is publishing this video with Manning’s permission.
Here’s a question, were the law enforcers performing a wellness check or were they using the wellness check as an excuse to burst into her home, claim that a controversial individual appeared to be holding a gun, and murder that individual? The answer you give will probably depend on your overall view of law enforcement in this country. I certainly am leaning towards the latter.
Fortunately, she wasn’t home during the incident so if it was the latter, she wasn’t around to be gunned down. However, the fact that a supposed wellness check involved four officers with weapons drawn bursting into a home should be concerned to everybody. If, for example, the home was occupied by a retired soldier who was suffering from a post-traumatic stress episode, they could have reacted violently to strangers with guns bursting into their home and end up gunned down by officers who made a bad situation worse. Moreover, the fact that the question about the law enforcers’ intentions can be seriously asked at all indicates a dangerous trend in law enforcement behavior.
I doubt we’ll hear much more about this incident. The department involved is being cagey and probably won’t be any less opaque in the comings days. This incident should be a lesson though. If you suspect somebody may be suicidal or incapacitated in some manner, don’t call 911. Check on them yourself or have a friend or family member check on them. If you call 911, the dispatcher will likely send law enforcers to perform the check and then there will be a good chance of the person you’re concerned about will end up in a body bag.