Faith Leaders gather on Friday demanding a crisis response team in the wake of Dante Kittrell’s shooting

By Naja Woods | ABC57

On Friday the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s confirmed it is waiting for ballistics tests to come back before releasing much more information on the deadly South Bend police shooting of 51-year-old Dante Kittrell. Faith Leaders still gathered on Friday to demand a crisis response teams in the wake of the deadly police shooting.

“We’re calling for change. It shouldn’t be this way that if you’re sick you’re afraid to call for the police.”

Faith in Indiana joined other community leaders Friday to call on Mayor James Mueller for accountability and press their call for deploying mobile crisis response teams, just two weeks after South Bend police shot and killed Kittrell.

A black man they said was apparently experiencing a mental health crisis, waving a gun, allegedly pointing it at police and threatening to shoot himself, outside Coquillard Elementary school last month.

 “A mentally ill person lost his life. He didn’t have to lose his life. We’re asking the Mayor to come out and talk with us. Give us some ideas of what your plans are, strategically,” said Pastor JB Williams with Faith in Indiana.

Mayor James Mueller said he plans to hold a community meeting next week about the city’s crisis response.

But while the shooting investigation is underway, he’s asking local leaders and the community for patience.

 “We’ve actually been working on forming a mobile crisis center with partners in the county,” Mayor Mueller. “I have mentioned for example to the folks in Faith in Indiana that we’ll be happy to meet when the time is right and the time will be right when the investigation concludes.”

But Faith Leaders said the community simply can’t afford to wait any longer.

 “We’ve been patient until this moment. Mayor please don’t ask us to be patient. We demand that you meet with us. People who are critical in our thinking and thought process and were calling for change,” explained Pastor Gilbert C. Washington with Faith in Indiana.

The group is not only demanding a mobile crisis team, but also a stronger mental health training for all first responders after a Common Council Bill to require the South Bend “Fire” Department to respond to such calls was put on hold this week over concerns firefighters don’t have the proper expertise to handle people in crisis.

“It’s going to require training for the entire community for the entire South Bend. So yes, the entire South Bend Police department must be trained in order to use the equipment. But it’s not the South Bend Police department’s responsibility, we’re asking for another organization to be created and utilized,” said Pastor Williams.

Officials have also discussed bills and plans to launch a crisis response center which faith leaders want to include trained mobile responders.

Mayor Mueller also said they do plan to release the police body cam footage and more information once the investigation is complete.

The mayor will also be holding a Community Action Group meeting August 23 from 6 – 7:30 at Brown Intermediate Gymnasium about crisis response procedures.

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