What does the shooting of Leonard Shand tell us about the mental health of civilians and police?

On Sept. 26, 2019, Leonard Shand was shot and killed by 10 police officers from three distinct departments in Maryland: Hyattsville (6), Prince George’s County (3), and Mt. Rainer (1). For nearly 30 minutes prior, police officers attempted to use less lethal options to subdue Shand, a 49-year-old Black man who was talking loudly and holding knives in public outside of a shopping mall. Characterized as being in a “disoriented state,” Shand potentially suffered from a mental health crisis that exhibits similarities to some drug usage.

The city of Hyattsville held a community event and council meeting where elected officials offered condolences to the family. While some are calling the incident a justifiable shooting, others note that police officers may have been too far away to properly deploy less lethal options. On Oct. 8, community groups held a vigil at the homicide site for Shand’s family, who are demanding justice for what they consider to be an excessive use of force. If this incident supposedly represents a prototype of police de-escalation tactics, these policies and procedures clearly need to be revisited; bullets shattered apartment and business office windows, endangering onlookers who recorded the incident on social media. In addition to these concerns, I worry about the collective mental health of the local community as well as the police officers.

Brookings Institute