Saturday, January 05, 2008

Mental Health Called Cops On Moore

A while back Eric Kirk asked a question on his blog something along the line of whether the police ever tried to get some people from mental health to try and help out in the Cheri Moore incident.

I commented that it might likely be the other way around as mental health facilities have been known to call police for assistance with violent patients. I mentioned, back in the days I listened to a scanner regularly, hearing of our local mental health facility, Semper Virens, asking for an officer to respond to deal with an unruly patient.

I knew the mental health people had some involvement in the Moore incident but didn't pay much attention to just what their role was until now. Today's Times- Standard shows I was at least partly right, although once again the items I wanted to link to I couldn't find available on the T-S web site. I'll go ahead and hand type them in for those that don't get the T-S hard copy.

These are from a section on witnesses to the Grand Jury and, specifically, a block entitled "Key Witnesses' Past Testimony":

Witness Craig Pasquini, Humboldt County Mental Health Manager:

Pasquini testified he requested a welfare check for Cheri Lyn Moore after a 16 minute phone call. She said she had a flare gun, was not a terrorist, she was not suicidal and she was not homicidal but was grieving over the loss of her son. Pasquini quoted her as saying she was going to blow up her apartment building and jump out the window, that she had warned neighbors and didn't want to hurt anybody.

Witness Phyliss Wilner, Humboldt County Mental Health Emergency Pyschiatric Nurse:

Wilner described a distraught call from Moore about one hour after the first saying she could see people in the hallway and she would shoot if they came in. Wilner said a co- worker called 911. She told Moore the people in the hall were police.

Well...looks like I was pretty much right in commenting on Kirk's question since the mental health people seemed to think this was a job for police. Either that or they simply didn't want to deal with Moore themselves, at least not in person. Or, in fairness to the mental health folks, maybe it's not in their job description to deal with patients out on the streets.

That testimony from Pasquini is kind of weird, to paraphrase:

[Moore] was not suicidal or homicidal....but she was going to blow up her apartment building and jump out the window....

I can't help but wonder which part of that he believed?

Bottom line, from what I can see, is Eureka P.D. got stuck handling a situation only one other person (Marcus Smith) seemed to want to deal with. Things might well have been handled differently, to an end everyone would be happy with but, bottom line, EPD was the one stuck with it.


At 9:36 AM, Blogger mresquan said...

I'd assume that it's standard procedure.But the police never made any other attempts to get back to mental health and continue to work with them on helping Moore out.I believe that the next contact that was made by the EPD to mental health was a few minutes after they killed her.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

There was a recent cop shooting of another nutcase in Sonoma County. I remember handling a few calls from Mental health as well as social services in southwest L.A. Fortunately no one was killed but the bottom line is that those agencies are not prepared to deal with violent folks outside of an institutional environment when force is the only option. When a situation results in tragedy however there are ALWAYS Monday morning quarterbacks such as mresquan and noel who have no training or experience but are certain that the cops were wrong. Fortunately, but unlike Humboldt County, most jurisdictions have prosecutors without political agendas and who have the courage and skills to cope.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Esquan wrote, "But the police never made any other attempts to get back to mental health and continue to work with them on helping Moore out.".

Well, according to Phyliss Wilner, that mental health nurse, Moore called them about an hour after her first phone call. Wilner says "a co- worker called 911...".

Sounds like they were doing about as much as they expected they should do: Call the cops.

I'm not saying things couldn't have been done differently, just that mental health seems to have been leaving this pretty much to EPD to handle as they see fit. I'm getting the impression that's the way things are normally done around here in regards mental health cases, but this time things went wrong.

At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to ask what happened to the mental health worker assigned to Ms. Moore ! Ask if she still works for Mental Health ? If not why not ? What did she do that day ?

Did Marcus Smith testify before the grand jury ? If so was he questioned about drug dealing?

At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Threatening to shoot people in the hallway, to set the building on fire, and to jump out the window ......... but not suicidal.

I saw that %50 of people that fall/jump from 3 stories die. Wonder what the % is on people that jump from second story?

At 12:56 PM, Blogger Fred said...

"Did Marcus Smith testify before the grand jury ?".

Marcus Smith was one of the witnesses listed in the Times- Standard article. To paraphrase the summary of his comments, he was talking to Moore on the phone and trying to get her to come downstairs. The police told him to stop talking to her. He felt there was an "energy" in the air that Moore was going to be killed.

I don't know that drug dealing would have been relevant as to what he saw and heard during the incident.

At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred what is your point? They did too much? Too little? Mental health should deliver? They should have their own army? This absolves EPD of everything?

You don't make sense. How does the fact that EPD being referred by mental health to this crazy woman change anything? Isn't that like blaming a hospital for a patient not taking their meds? Blaming caltrans for road rage?

Are you just whining because thats what you do?

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless he was seeing stuff like lavender armadillos and hearing the 1812 Overture by the Cairo Philharmonic.

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know Fred.

But, if he was such a friend or more likely, business associate, perhaps he could have done more on the front end to see that she had her 'meds' or smokes or whatever she needed to chill a bit.

As evidenced already on these threads, there are a lot of categorically predisposed cop haters out there. My question, does a drug dealer pack a bias?

Does a DA who was roundly criticized by the POAs during the last election have a bias?

I dunno....ask Debbie August.

I guess we don't know but given the

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Fred said...

2:15 writes, "You don't make sense. How does the fact that EPD being referred by mental health to this crazy woman change anything?".

How does it not. Many seem to be complaining, or at least suggesting, that mental health should have played more of a role in this incident. Or at least something along that line.

I'm saying such actions by mental health seemed to be out of their area of influence, given actions by mental health personnel at the time. They simply referred all communications to Eureka PD via 911. I get the impression this is standard operating procedure with mental health. They don't make house calls. Police do.

What's your point? You haven't made any point to me except to convince me you have a problem with reading comprehension.

In fairness to you, I've misread a number of things in the news and on the blogs over time. I'll assume you're doing the same.

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just dont see you saying anything Fred. More involved? As in a mental health army? House calls? Forced medication? Wouldnt you say this is beyond the scope of what they should do or can afford to do? Youre distracting from the real issue which is EPD's conduct, at least the officers in charge. If theres someone with a flare gun at the zoo, we wouldnt get pissed at them for calling the cops, right? Should we thus get upset at parole for not handling Burgess on their own?

Youre just trying to stir up trouble where there is none.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I get the impression you don't come here often or, if you do, you read all kinds of stuff into whatever I write. That's not unusual. Lefties and Righties do the same.

I don't know how to deal with you and your concerns since you don't understand what I'm writing. Perhaps you should go hang at Humboldt Herald's, or Eric's? Maybe they can communicate their thoughts in a manner you can justifiably love or hate.

I don't think I can. I'll direct my writings to those who have some idea what I'm talking about.

At 4:57 PM, Blogger Carson Park Ranger said...

"...there are ALWAYS Monday morning quarterbacks..."

Zorba calls the kettle black.

At 5:40 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I don't know if I missed this the first time or they added it later. Here's the article I was referring to:

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "energy" Mr Smith felt was probaly the speed flowing through his system. By the way, did he get convicted for his arrest last year or did Gallegoes give him a seatheart deal? Knowing GAGS, probaly the latter.

At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always be careful before assuming the Mr. Smith you read about in the paper is the same Mr. Smith you are writing about now, folks.

Remember, there are a LOT of Smiths in this world of ours.

At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred wrote to another poster, "In fairness to you, I've misread a number of things in the news and on the blogs over time. I'll assume you're doing the same."

Fred, that was a kind thing to write. It shows you are more of a gentleman than I've given you credit for being. I'm glad you wrote it and glad I read it.

At 3:03 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

"She said she had a flare gun, was not a terrorist, she was not suicidal and she was not homicidal, but was grieving over the loss of her son."

The article is unclear, but I read this as she said she was not suicidal or homicidal. Then the case worker also "...quoted her as saying she was going to blow up her apartment building and jump out the window"

If I'm understanding it, there is no contradiction. The case worker is simply recalling what Moore said, and it appears she didn't see herself as suicidal or homicidal, but wanted to destroy the building and jump to safety.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger robash141 said...

I think anyone who uses the term "Monday Morning Quarterback"
when relating to this situation shows real callousness or at least a fundamental lack of seriousness.

Shooting someone to death with automatic weapons is NOT a game.

Cheri Moore can't take ten yard loss and punt the ball away because she is really dead.

She can't just hit the "reset" button and bring herself back to life because it's not a game.

And the EPD can't just take a mulligan and do it over because its not a game.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Monday Morning Quarterbacking is and age- old common way of describing criticizing events after the fact, usually by people who weren't there. It's a common term. I don't see how using it suggests someone isn't serious about the issue being addressed.

At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well-stated, Fred.

At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the most troubling aspects of what happened that day was the police order to cut off the only phone conversation Ms. Moore had.

The police officer made the decision based on what she testified was the standard procedure in hostage situations.

But was this a hostage situation?

And more to the point, what is the basis for this standard procedure? From what I have been able to learn, it appears to be accepted by all police officers, all police departments, all over the country. But is it based on anything other than an intuitive feeling that the suspect or subject needs to be closely controlled?

The closest answer I have been able to get is that a book was written, which is accepted as accurate by law enforcement everywhere in our country, that insists all communications with a subject must be cut off except for communications with the police.

I do not know whether the outcome that day might have been more positive for Ms. Moore if her conversation with her friend had been permitted to continue, but I can't help but wonder.

I also can't help wondering if a policy that is implemented so hard and fast as this one shouldn't be more clearly based on a careful objective review of the experiences of people in similar mental health/law enforcement situations.

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


In dealing with suicidal suspects the police cut off outside communication with the police because; a suicidal person frequently uses the phone to call family and friends to say goodbye before they act out on the suicide. In stopping them from making their last goodbye's it gives the police more time.

I think there is a reason this is standard for the police. And if it's as an accepted SOP as you state and it's wrong, don't you think it would have come up before now?

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not necessarily. Lots of SOPs go on for years and years before their foolishness is recognized. Not only in police organizations either. All human organizations suffer from the consequences of what has become known as "group think."


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