Cops Shot, Arrested Black Man During Mental Health Crisis, Lawsuit Says

By Jovonne Ledet

June 14, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

The Pittsburg, California Police Department is facing a lawsuit alleging that cops unjustly shot a Black man while he was experiencing a mental health crisis, per NBC Bay Area.

The lawsuit stems from the 2022 shooting of Ashton Porter, who had flown from Georgia to California and checked into a Pittsburg hotel.

Porter said he started to experience a mental health crisis in his hotel room, prompting his family to call police for help. He was ultimately shot twice and arrested.

"Me and my family called the police because my dad was very stressed," Porter's daughter, Natalia Metts, said. "We just wanted help to know where he was, and they did the total opposite."

Police alleged that they initially received a call from the hotel after Porter refused to leave his room.

However, Porter claims that he was exhibiting clear signs of a mental health crisis. Porter said he told police that he was scared and concerned people were out to get him.

Video from Porter's lawyers show police promising to not hurt him if he came out of his room. Former police officer Ernesto Mejia-Orozco opened fire against Porter after over 20 hours of negotiation that included multiple tear gas deployments.

Police previously claimed that Porter was shot after de-escalation tactics failed to work. Before the gunshots, Porter was allegedly hit with rubber bullets and wielded a knife at police.

Porter's attorneys said their client was shielding himself from the rubber bullets. According to the attorneys, video shows Porter raising his hands in surrender. They said police escalated the situation and sent mental health professionals away.

"The police pivoted from this being a wellness call where mental health professionals who are duly trained to take care of this incident into it being a police operation with SWAT," Adante Pointer, Porter’s lawyer, said in a statement.

Porter was arrested on several charges, all of which were later dropped. His lawsuit names four Pittsburg police officers, the police department, and the city as defendants.

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