Arizona resident says her home was destroyed after she called the police for a mental health crisis.
Adela Gibson called Mesa, Arizona, police officers in September 2020 after her now ex-boyfriend, Richard Moore, who has schizophrenia, underwent a psychotic episode and wouldn’t leave her mobile home. She called law enforcement to address the mental health crisis and has since filed a lawsuit against the city for the way in which officers responded.
Gibson had called the police for a similar episode in 2019 and responding officers took Moore to a nearby hospital for treatment. However, in 2020, the department sent its SWAT team, “which used bean bags, stun guns and a K-9 dog on the man before taking him into custody,” according to her civil rights suit.
“Adela requested that police take him to a hospital, due to some mental issues,” wrote Jacob Shumway, the first officer to respond, in his report. “I explained that we might be able to do that, but our primary concern right now was any criminal violations.” Shumway wrote, he told her “the SWAT team would be called to forcibly remove him from the house.”
Officers immediately noted that Moore was “behaving erratically, claiming that he was the ‘living Christ’ and making other delusional statements” that can be a common symptom of schizophrenia. He was evidently coherent enough to also tell them about his diagnosis, however, and explained he was not taking his medication at directed.
“Gibson told officers Moore had not hurt her and was not dangerous, although he could become loud and belligerent,” the lawsuit states. She explained to the officers that Moore was unarmed, and they had even noted they did not see any weapons on him. Nevertheless, officers used a bullhorn to demand that he leave the home. Then one of them began to throw bean bags at him “as he approached the doorway,” the suit states.
The same officer “claimed Moore’s right arm was concealed behind his back, as if holding a weapon,” the suit explains. However, Moore’s hands were in the air, according to Gibson, so “Moore crawled back into the trailer at that point,” and the team “started firing tear gas canisters and stun grenades into the house, shattering every glass window in the trailer.”
Gibson was waiting in a parking lot nearby and heard the explosions from where she sat. Moore, meanwhile, concealed himself under a pile of laundry in Gibson’s bedroom. Officers sent a police dog to attack him, and an officer used a Taser stun gun to remove the dog’s bite from his leg.
Police took Moore into custody at that point, and he was transported to a hospital for the treatment of multiple injuries sustained. The charges against him were initially dropped, but his attorneys told Gibson they were refiled after legal action was taken against the city. Moore pleaded guilty in October to criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct, according to public record.
The lawsuit accuses police of using excessive force and negligence in the way they responded to the crisis, and states that the city failed to repair Gibson’s trailer after officers destroyed it. Gibson also claims that the officers stole her kitchen cabinets and bookshelves in the midst of the events.