CINCINNATI (AP) — A homeless advocacy organization and a Black Lives Matter group are challenging the fatal police shooting of a man with a history of mental illness.
The Hamilton County prosecutor on Monday called the shooting justified, and the police chief said the officer was under “vicious, violent attack” by a knife-wielding robbery suspect.
The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition and Black Lives Matter Cincinnati issued a joint statement saying Jawari Porter’s death was avoidable. It said the officer, who was white, had his gun drawn as he opened his vehicle door, escalating the situation. They said police could have tried to interact with and subdue the 25-year-old Porter, who was black.
Video released Monday shows Porter lunging at the officer in the driver’s seat of a police vehicle. Authorities said Porter was trying to stab him with a knife he had used some 20 minutes earlier Sunday morning to hold a security guard as he robbed a grocery store.
Police Chief Eliot Isaac and Mayor John Cranley said officer Anthony Brucato, a 25-year veteran, had no choice but to open fire. Prosecutor Joe Deters said video showed Porter was clearly trying “to cause serious physical harm” to the officer, who fired six shots.
Court records show a judge last year found that Porter was mentally ill and incompetent to stand trial on assault charges. He was ordered into treatment. A July 2015 police affidavit in the case stated Porter continued to try to attack an assault victim while and after police used a stun gun on him.
A judge also found him incompetent to stand trial in 2011 on charges including public indecency and ordered him into treatment.
The homeless coalition said Porter had been homeless for some time.
“As we know, there are not nearly enough resources and proper treatment for people with mental illness,” the coalition said. “Our society and our system in general failed Jawari Porter.”
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