CHICAGO (CBS) — A vigil was held outside Munster Community Hospital Thursday evening for Jamal Williams, the Western Michigan graduate shot and killed last week by a retired police officer.
Williams’ parents now have a growing list of agencies they say failed their son and a list of reasons they think their son changed — the COVID-19 pandemic, the death of George Floyd and the loss of Williams’ graduation ceremony.
Williams’ mom noticed a change in her son’s normally upbeat demeanor, so she tells CBS 2 she put a tracker on him, and two weeks ago she got worried.
“Here we are dropping our son off to get some help, and here ending up hearing the very place he went to get help from he ended up dying,” said Williams’ mother Patrice Patterson-Davis.
Two weeks ago Williams made it halfway home from college in Kalamazoo. After jumping into the cab of a semi-truck and threatening the driver, the 22-year-old Division I football standout was seen standing out in a parking lot “raising his hands and yelling to the sky,” according to a police report attached to his arrest.
“If you see this child having some type of mental breakdown, why would you even categorize this as resisting arrest?” Patterson-Davis said.
His parents say St. Joseph, Michigan police were the first to misread their son. The Munster hospital his parents drove him to directly from jail would be the second.
“He kept telling me, ‘My mind is racing, racing. I can’t put two and two together,’” said Williams’ stepfather Dwayne Davis.
The parents say despite the hospital telling them they don’t have the capacity to handle a psych patient they said they found a room for him.
When Williams turned violent with a nurse the security that arrived opted for lethal force, ending the life of the fresh graduate and one of the sheriff’s department veterans working security that night.
“The sheriffs came knocking on our door about 8:30, 9 o’clock,” said Patterson-Davis.
That visit the next morning would come from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, the third agency the family says let them down that week.
For 10 hours last Tuesday the story reported by the Sheriff’s Department was Williams disarmed one of those officers and fired a fatal shot before being shot himself. Prosecutors later said that never happened and that Williams never touched a gun.
“We want to know why that first story went out before getting the facts,” his mother said.
As the “Justice for Jamal” movement grows, his mother says three institutions let her son down, and it is both a part of and separate from the Black Lives Matter movement.
“So we feel like not only Black lives matter, but a life mattered right there,” she said. “It’s bigger than Black Lives Matter. A life mattered there. And they failed to asses him and to properly get him the help that he needs.”
The hospital is now standing behind security protocol and released the following statement:
Our staff and security officers followed established procedures in an attempt to deescalate the situation to avoid any physical confrontation. While this situation ended tragically, at all times our staff and security officers were doing their best to protect this patient, all of our other patients and our staff.