Walnut Creek, CA to Pay $4 Million in Police Killing of Mentally Ill Black Man 

Walnut Creek, CA to Pay $4 Million in Police Killing of Mentally Ill Black Man 

Miles Hall, a mentally ill Black man, was shot by police in July 2019, even though law enforcement had been repeatedly warned he suffered from mental health problems. The city of Walnut Creek has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Hall’s family for $4 million.

Just a year earlier, the Hall family filed the lawsuit, alleging the police knew Miles was mentally ill but did not de-escalate the incident. Although the officers were equipped with tasers and Hall did not present a threat, they shot him anyway.

A Mental Health Crisis

Hall, 23, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. The condition can result in delusions, hallucinations, bizarre behavior, depression, and mania.

Part of the tragedy is that Hall’s family had previously notified the police department about his mental condition. They wanted to work with the department, and there was a plan in place for a mental health worker to respond to any calls regarding Miles, according to his mother, Taun Hall. She wanted to ensure that law enforcement knew about his mental health problems and that he was not violent.

However, the plan did involve having the police come to the scene so they could put him in a hold, if necessary, while Miles received his medication. The plan Taun Hall had so carefully tried to put in place was not followed, and the result was her family’s greatest fear.

Five Calls, Four Warnings

Police received five 911 calls about Hall, and four of the callers mentioned the young man suffered from mental illness. Most were family members, concerned that he was walking around the neighborhood with a metal pry bar and causing disruption. He told one neighbor the bar was “a gift from the Lord.”

When five police officers arrived at the Hall home, they saw him walking nearby with the bar in hand, which the family later said was a garden tool. After Hall ignored a verbal warning to put down the tool, police shot several non-lethal bean bags at him.

Body camera footage shows Hall zig-zagging along the street where the police were located. Two police officers fired, and Hall collapsed. He later died at the hospital.

While police say he was charging at them, family members say he was trying to escape and go home. The family’s lawyer says it is evident from the footage that the police were not under threat of attack, and they did not move out of the running man’s way before he was shot.

Changing Their Approach

Walnut Hill police are changing their approach to dealing with mentally ill people, and are allocating $100,000 toward crisis intervention team expansion. This should allow them to have someone available 24/7 to respond to any mental health emergencies.

Taun Hall said she appreciated the changes the city was trying to make, but does not think the answer lies with the police department. Instead, she wants to see a non-police response to calls regarding the mentally ill.

The family has established the Miles Hall Foundation, whose mission is to “support and protect families by educating communities about mental illness and by protecting those suffering with mental illness from excessive use of force by law enforcement.”

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