Boston to Pay $4.7 Million in Damages to Mother of Black Man Shot by Police During Mental Health Crisis

The City of Boston has agreed to pay a settlement of $4.7 million to the mother of Terrence Coleman, a Black man who was shot and killed by Boston police during a mental health crisis in 2016. The incident occurred at Coleman’s South End home in October of that year, after his mother, Hope, called 911 seeking an ambulance to transport him to a hospital. Terrence had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Hope Coleman filed a lawsuit after local prosecutors deemed the shooting justified. Then-Suffolk County DA Daniel Conley stated that Terrence, armed with a 5-inch kitchen knife, posed a danger to the officers and others. However, Hope revealed in 2018 that she initially called 911 because Terrence refused to come inside their front stoop. She explicitly mentioned not wanting police involvement, but the operator insisted that EMTs be accompanied by officers as per policy.

Now, nearly eight years after Terrence’s tragic death, the City of Boston has agreed to pay $4.7 million in damages to his mother. In a statement released by her lawyers, Hope Coleman expressed her relief, saying, “No mother should have to witness her child killed at the hands of police and fight, the way that I have had to fight now for so many years, to gain accountability. Nothing can bring Terrence back, but today at least some measure of justice has been done.”

This case sheds light on the increasing number of fatalities that occur when police respond to mental health crises, including situations involving individuals who are suicidal, experiencing a breakdown, or suffering from mental illness. Boston city councilors have proposed redirecting nonviolent or mental health-related calls away from the police and towards trained public health officials. However, no official changes have been implemented thus far.

Hope Coleman’s lawyers, including William Fick, highlighted the deficiencies in the readiness of Boston Police and EMS to handle mental health crises. They stated, “BPD and BEMS remain woefully unprepared to handle such situations safely.”

It is worth noting that in 2023, Cambridge police shot and killed another individual armed with a knife. The officer involved was later found not criminally responsible for the death after firing six shots.

Author: CrimeDoor

1 Response

  1. I appreciate the author shedding light on the settlement reached in the case of Terrence Coleman. It’s certainly a tragic incident that raises important questions about police response to mental health crises. I would be interested to know more about the circumstances surrounding the shooting and how the settlement amount was determined. Additionally, it would be helpful to explore any potential changes or reforms that the City of Boston has implemented or plans to implement to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

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