Mental Illness and Murder: Maurice Clemmons November 30, 2009Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, Mental Hospital, mental illness.
Tags: Delusions, Insanity, mental illness, Mental Illness and Murder
Here’s the real story: Mentally Ill Man Commits Murder.
Here we go again: Man with long history of Mental Illness shoots 4 police officers at point-blank range, killing all four.
Some of us diagnosed with mental illness will surely recognize some of Clemmons’ behavior- obviously not the extremes of murders or rapes- as versions of our own behavior. We can relate to some of the things that Clemmons believed. It’s a matter of degrees. “There but for the Grace of God go I…”
Him: Clemmons gathered his wife and young relatives together at around at 3 or 4 in the morning on a Sunday. He told them all to undress, explaining that families need to be naked for at least 5 minutes on a Sunday. (Pierce County (WA) Police Report) Me: I took my clothes off in a hospital emergency room in the belief that I was a Mermaid.
Him: Clemmons believed 1) that he was Moses, 2) that he was Jesus Christ, and 3) that the world was going to end very soon. Me: I believed that I was ordained by God to bring wisdom to the masses.
Him: Clemmons believed that he could fly, and that he expected President Obama to visit to “confirm that he is Messiah in the flesh”. Me: I believed that God gave me special gifts including ESP, and that my rich and powerful friends including the Dalai Lama, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill and Melinda Gates gave me an unlimited supply of money.
Prosecutors in Pierce County were sufficiently concerned about Clemmons’ mental health that they asked to have him evaluated at Western State Hospital (WA). On Nov. 6, a psychologist concluded that Clemmons was competent to stand trial on the child-rape and other felony charges, according to court records. Twenty three days later, the mentally ill man killed four police officers. Two days later, Clemmons was shot and killed by a police officer.
Clearly, Clemmons was mentally ill on November 6th, but his psychologist wasn’t paid to find out whether he was sufficiently mentally ill enough to require treatment for his mental illness. The psychologist was only interested in one thing: Was Clemmons able to stand trial for rape? The point here is that something must have triggered the request for the mental evaluation. What was it? And why wasn’t he assessed for a mental illness at the same time? Why did the assessment stop at finding out whether he was competent enough to stand trial?
What I really fail to understand is how come a man who committed several crimes and exhibited bizarre behavior and who prosecutors had evaluated for a competency hearing wasn’t committed, either voluntarily or involuntarily, to a mental hospital for treatment. How can it be that I was committed but he wasn’t?
Unfortunately, there is a distinct difference between assessing Clemmons for mental illness severe enough to require an insanity defense and assessing Clemmons for specific mental illnesses and treating said illnesses. Had the two assessments been integrated, five people would still be alive.
The murder of those four police officers was a tragedy beyond words. But there’s another tragedy here: the mess the Mental Health care system is in.
I know from personal experience how difficult it is to get mentally ill people help. I won’t be surprised to learn that his family members have been trying to get him the help he needs for years. But until he kills someone or tries to kill himself, the mental health community cannot help him. And yet even that wasn’t enough. Was it his race?
There aren’t enough psychiatrists to help all the mentally ill who need help. There aren’t enough mental health hospital beds for everyone who needs help. The mental health care system is broken, and these things, including the senseless murder of those four officers yesterday and the murder of Officer Timothy Brenton on Halloween, are the price we pay for it. Until we fix the system, including making it much easier to seek and get help for the mentally ill, these senseless acts will continue to happen. Let’s fix the broken system and save lives.