Community members ask South Bend leaders to improve mental health response teams

By Anne Lurea | WSBT Reporter

Community members are asking again for answers in a police involved shooting.

That shooting happened two weeks ago and left one man dead.

51-year-old Dante Kittrell was shot and killed by South Bend Officers.

The group Faith in Indiana wants a meeting with the Mayor.

Mayor James Mueller says he can’t elaborate on details of this incident as it’s still under investigation.

But he says he does plan to meet with the group when the time is appropriate.

“Two weeks ago at this time Dante was killed and our community is in pain, our community is angry,” said Pastor J.B. Williams, Abundant Faith Family Ministry.

Community members are seeking answers from city leaders on improving its mental health crisis response teams.

On July 29, police say Dante Kittrell was armed with a gun and threatening suicide. Investigators say police tried to de-escalate the situation for 40 minutes before Kittrell reportedly pointed the gun at police.

Leaders of Faith in Indiana say the job of helping someone in a mental health crisis shouldn’t be the responsibility of South Bend Police. They say there’s a mobile mental health crisis unit available right now but that it wasn’t called.

“The reality is they probably would have liked to been called. They feel like they could have added another angle and we don’t know nobody can predict whether the outcome would’ve been different. But certainly it couldn’t have hurt to have trained mental health professionals on site,” said Rebekah Go, Jail Diversion Working Group.

The group is asking for new protocols and the use of resources while South Bend Police are called to a scene.

They also want 10% of the police budget to be used on mental health crisis response teams.

Both things the group wants to propose to Mayor Mueller.

But Mueller says he can’t work with the team until the investigation is closed.

“We don’t know you know we’re not running the investigation so that timeline is also where dependent on a different entity to figure out when that investigation will conclude,” said Mayor James Mueller, (D) South Bend.

But when it is, he’ll be happy to meet.

“The groups like he’s in Indiana and the other that have been involved in these types of meetings, before if we look back to forming the new use of force policy a couple years ago for the discipline metrics. We use those meetings to get feedback, now of course we can’t, there are different people who are different things certain end of the day we can’t do what everyone wants but those are ways in which the community can provide it back in the past they have been productive and instructor and leading to a community that effort,” said Mueller.

Along with Mueller, South Bend Police say, for transparency reasons, body cam footage from the incident will be released.

The investigation is ongoing by the St. Joseph County Police Department.

The officers involved in the shooting remain on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.

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