The mother of Birendra Thakuri, who appeared to be in the middle of a mental breakdown when he was fatally shot by a police officer, has filed a lawsuit against the city of Westminster and officer Steven Bare.
The lawsuit stems from an incident that happened on Aug. 25, 2018. Thakuri, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was on a walk with his brother, Surendra Thakuri, and started darting out into traffic. His brother grabbed ahold of him and pulled him out of the road. A witness saw everything and called 911.
Westminster police officer Steven Bare came to the scene and shined his flashlight on the two brothers. Birendra started to flail his arms and hitting his head. He got up, started screaming and walked toward the officer. Bare yelled at him to stop. Birendra listened and started walking back toward his brother.
Birendra started to walk toward the officer just a little while later. Bare swung his flashlight and pushed him away.
Bare said that Birendra then started to talk to his brother in a foreign language and charged at him. He then pulled out his gun and fatally shot him.
“It’s clear that Officer Bare did not know how to appropriately handle someone who is in the throes of a mental health crisis,” said Gail Johnson, the Thakuri family’s attorney.
Johnson said that Bare should have never put himself in a situation where he was scared for his life and should have waited for backup.
She also said that Bare should have used less lethal tools to take control of the situation, like pepper spray or a taser.
“This case is about excessive force by a police officer, but it is also about how law enforcement handles individuals who are experiencing mental health problems,” she said.
No criminal charges were filed against Bare.
Ms. Johnson goes on to say, “Our police officers must be trained how to interact with people experiencing or exhibiting the symptoms of mental illness. They must be trained to respond with compassion, understanding and patience, rather than the barrel of a gun… Just because Birendra was suffering from mental anguish that night, doesn’t mean he should have had to die.”