A family in Norfolk said David Latham was shot and killed by police unnecessarily on Friday night. The 35-year-old man had a history of mental health problems. His family called the police in hopes of getting David emergency psychiatric help. Audrey Latham, David’s mother, said the family was shocked at the shootings. David’s brother, Anthony, said he asked the officer to use a stun gun before he opened fire.
Audrey said her son was 17-years-old when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia but has dealt with mental health issues since age 15. It has been a long road ever since and police have been to their home several times during the journey to help him get psychiatric care. David lived with his parents in Norfolk on W. 30th Street. He had been to a number of psychiatric facilities throughout the area, but at the time of the shooting had been off his medication.
Earlier on Friday David met with a counselor from a mobile mental health unit. He used to meet with a Community Services Board counselor but now through Medicaid meets with the mobile unit. The victim’s mother said he just recently stopped taking his medication and as a result had been extremely agitated, hearing voices, stopped eating and sleeping. David called the police a week prior requesting to be committed. He was taken by police to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital but was released the same day.
David spent three months at the Pavilion at Williamsburg Place psychiatric facility earlier this year after a temporary detention order had been placed on him. The facility tried to get David into Eastern State Hospital, which is a mental health facility, but was unsuccessful.
Audrey said, on Friday David’s sister called the police after he threatened his brother with a knife. In times past the police stayed outside while Community Services Board mental health workers assisted her son during an episode of mental health crises such as he had experienced that night. Audrey does not understand why this time was different; the police dispatcher was informed of David’s mental illness.
Audrey, her husband Glennis and other family members were immediately taken to the police station to be interrogated as witnesses after the shooting. She begged to be allowed to go to the hospital with her son but they refused her request, which she thought was inhumane. The family was held at the station until around 4 o’clock the next morning. Audrey said a family member texted her to tell her David had died at the hospital.
Police reports state David threatened him with a knife before the officer fired. David’s mother said there were four children and five adults in the house when her son was shot. She said David had a knife in his hand, which he had threatened his brother with earlier, but was not holding it in a threatening manner when the officer came. Instead, he held it at his side. As David stood in the doorway the officer fired several shots. When he turned to go back inside the house, Audrey said, the officer followed him and shot him again while other officer waited outside.
The officers, although not publicly identified, have been placed on administrative duty while the investigation continues. When the city manager or police chief was asked to comment, Spokeswoman Lori Crouch responded via email stating the investigation was ongoing and it is too soon for them to speak until all the facts are in.
David is the third man to be fatally shot by Norfolk law enforcement in eight days. Out of the three he is the second with a mental health condition. The first mentally ill man was shot and killed on Wednesday, he was 72-years-old. All three recent police killings are still being investigated.
A family in Norfolk is dealing with shock and disbelief as they process the fatal shooting of their son and brother, David Latham. The 35-year-old man had a history of mental health problems. On Friday evening his family called the police in hopes of getting David emergency psychiatric help; instead he was unnecessarily killed right in front of them.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
The News Tribune