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