BEND, OR -- The day before the deadly encounter between police and an armed Redmond man, his neighbors reported he was acting “odd.” District Attorney John Hummel says 63-year-old Michael Gaskill was experiencing a mental crisis. Neighbors called police on August 24 to report Gaskill was yelling and lying down in the street. Officers responded and talked with him, but determined he was not a danger and Hummel says he didn’t meet the criteria to be taken into custody against his will.
Sheriff Shane Nelson says the Redmond incident highlights the need for a local Crisis center. "Right now, the way that we serve this vulnerable population is in our jail, and that’s a lot of times not the appropriate facility to do that. It’s in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, Deschutes County Behavioral Health, our private medical agencies that are out in the community and nonprofits. And, we’re trying to move forward with logistics and planning and make this facility a reality." The idea was first announced in April.
At Wednesday's press conference regarding the Gaskill case
, Sheriff Nelson said, "What we’re looking at here is a combination center. We want a sober station and crisis stabilization center because on any given day, they might have a vulnerable citizen who’s experiencing one or the other and they’re interchangeable. Sometimes you don’t know what is actually affecting the person at the time." He added, "We’re looking at some funding sources; I’m continuing to work with the Oregon Legislature; I’ve been in contact with Rep. Dr. Buehler, who’s helping us work through that; as well as the state Sheriff’s Association lobbyist Kevin Campbell."
Nelson and D.A. Hummel say it can be difficult for officers to balance the rights and liberties of a person in mental crisis with the desire to get them help.