Deadly consequence

Nola_nicola_cotton

NOPD Officer Nicola Cotton

Nola_johnson

Bernel Johnson charged with the murder of Officer Cotton

(Times Picayune photos)

This is just a sad story all around. While I think it is something that could have occured in any city and in New Orleans prior to Katrina, the fact remains and has been known for quite some time that there is a continuing mental health care crisis in NOLA post Katrina/federal flood.Below are excerpts from a NYT article on the shooting death of NOPD Officer Nicola Cotton, 24, on Monday. She was shot 15 times by Bernel P. Johnson, a man with a long history of mental illness … 

NEW ORLEANS — On Monday morning, in a bleak shopping strip almost under
the Pontchartrain Expressway, Bernel P. Johnson wrestled the gun away
from a young police officer and shot her dead. When backup officers
arrived, he handed them the weapon.

But Mr. Johnson, 44, who had a long history of psychiatric
problems, was not supposed to be anywhere near that street or any
other. Just three weeks earlier, on Jan. 4, the police “observed him to
be mentally ill and dangerous to others,” said Dr. Jeffrey Rouse, the
chief deputy coroner, who signed the papers committing Mr. Johnson to
involuntary treatment.

He was sent to a state mental institution,
to be confined until he was no longer a danger to himself or others.
Somehow, for reasons that remain unclear, the institution released him
before the shooting. Because of privacy laws, state officials are not
saying which institution it was, or how the decision was made.

But the mental health system has been in chaos since Hurricane Katrina,and questions over these kinds of releases are adding to waves of grief, anger and fear that have swept over many in the city, even as it celebrates Mardi Gras.

SNIP

Police officers are furious over what they see as a shortage of
acute-care psychiatric beds at the remaining public hospital in the
city and a lack of follow-up treatment. A prominent judge says the
parish jail has become a de-facto replacement for closed psychiatric
wards, and the sheriff who runs the prison agrees.

State
officials contend that they are struggling to rebuild the system, even
as more people here are uninsured and so do not have access to other
treatment. Doctors warn that the stress of living in a deeply damaged
city, often without family and friends, is pushing people over the edge.

And some also say that since Hurricane Katrina, the city has been
attracting transients with mental health problems, who end up homeless
and troubled on the streets. Or, as Dr. Rouse puts it, “It’s almost as
if New Orleans has become a magnet for chaos.”

The Times Picayune had a more detailed article yesterday titledProfile of a Murder.

Nola_n_cotton

(Times Picayune photo by
New Orleans police officer Matt Patin comforts
fellow officer E.C. Whitfield, left, during a memorial for slain
officer Nicola Cotton at the NOPD Sixth District on Martin Luther King
Blvd., New Orleans, Wednesday, January 30, 2008. Dozens of NOPD
personnel and members of the community memorialized Cotton as her
patrol car was draped with a black cloth and flowers on the hood.

UPDATE: Link above has been updated with the following…

An autopsy performed on Cotton revealed she was eight weeks pregnant,
said Cedric Pollard, 25, who said he was her boyfriend. Pollard said in
a telephone interview that he’d had some inkling Cotton might be
expecting. He said he found out for sure only after her death.

6 thoughts on “Deadly consequence

  1. virgotex says:

    RM and I were just discussing this post and how sometimes, there’s just not much you can say in the face of such a tragedy as this.
    Except thanks for posting it, scout. We need to see it.

    Like

  2. Thanks, Scout.
    We are all equal under the gun.

    I am so sad today with the Corps court ruling covering the internet news like funereal dirt, with cops dying, people dying, hope dying and the only person to have mentioned New Orleans in part of his platform drops out of the race for President.
    But hey…it’s Mardi Gras!

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  3. MapleStreet says:

    “Police officers are furious over what they see as a shortage of acute-care psychiatric beds at the remaining public hospital in the city and a lack of follow-up treatment.”
    Well, with the destruction of pre-existing hospitals and relative dearth of re-construction of hospitals (and even the lack of an infrastructure to support the building of fire houses and local doctors offices), why should anyone be shocked that mental health is lacking too?
    When is the President’s office going to live up to its promises???>>

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  4. merr says:

    This is just another example of different resources in city’s not having any communication with each other. Virginia Tech is another very sad example. Just three weeks earlier, on Jan. 4, the police “observed him to be mentally ill and dangerous to others. He was also homeless and not taking his medications – HOW DID HE GET RELEASED?

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  5. Dirty Harry says:

    Cop alone on duty murdered by a menatlly sick man???
    This is what Conservative, Republican politicians are like, they believe in the law of the Jungle, the survival of the fittest, and they mainly provide welfare aid what mostly to the rich, big businesses and not to the people who need it???? Jesus himself cares about poor people!!! the sick as well. But not the Christian Conservatives?
    By the way since when do you all let a cop patrol alone.. even the RCMP cops in Canada have learned this was a really bad idea.

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  6. ushas says:

    “Police officers are furious over what they see as a shortage of acute-care psychiatric beds at the remaining public hospital in the city and a lack of follow-up treatment.”
    Substance abuse treatment, detoxification and methadone maintenance and detox – outpatient programs.
    ***********************************************
    ushas
    Florida Drug Rehab

    Like

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