Washington County Deputy Sheriff shot and killed 23-year-old Benjamin W. Evans. 

CONTACT: Aliya Khan, 812-230-4241 cell, akhan@aclu-mn.org

St. Paul, MINN – Early in the morning on Thursday, April 12, a Washington County deputy sheriff shot and killed a reportedly suicidal 23-year-old man. The Star Tribune identified the man as Benjamin W. Evans. While we are waiting for more details to be released, the following statement can be attributed to ACLU-MN Executive Director John Gordon:

Benjamin W. Evans is the third person killed by law enforcement in Minnesota in 2018. Residents of Lake Elmo, as well as the broader Minnesota community, are grappling with yet another loss. We expect a transparent and timely investigation. The United States Department of Justice best practices recommends that, within eight hours of an incident, preliminary information should be released to the public. We are calling for an official release of the victim’s name, the name of the deputy who shot Evans, and any information about body camera or dashboard footage obtained from the incident.

Last December, Marcus Fischer was in critical condition after Minneapolis police officers shot him while he was engaging in self-harming behavior at City Hall. And of the 14 Minnesotans police shot and killed in 2017, half were reportedly experiencing a mental health crisis. We are seeing once again the ineffectiveness of our law enforcement at responding to mental health crises in our state.

We need to strengthen training for law enforcement who find themselves first responders to mental health incidents, but we also have to acknowledge the limits of de-escalation and mental health training for law enforcement. Officers are simply not the most qualified people to respond to a mental health crisis. We have to spend a lot more money on alternatives like mobile crisis units and community-based crisis services. And we should not be diverting money to expanding police forces that is needed for mental health and crisis response resources.  We should be focused on reducing the number of people experiencing crises in the first place.

We shouldn’t have to wait for police to kill another person in crisis to see meaningful reform.

The ACLU-MN is a non-profit organization that works to defend the civil liberties of all Minnesotans. Learn more at www.aclu-mn.org

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