The father of Rashawn ‘Turtle’ Shabazz, Khalid Shabazz, believes that the country’s mental healthcare system has failed to help his son—specifically, the administration of the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital.
Shabazz, who lost a kidney after being shot during a police altercation on Wednesday afternoon, suffers from bipolar disorder, which his father attributes to previous drug use. “I think that the institution has failed him, the head of the institution and some individuals who were responsible for making decisions to ensure that he gets the proper treatment,” Khalid Shabazz told Observer’s Voice of the People show yesterday.
The father said that following a violent crime Shabazz had committed he had lobbied for his son to be admitted to the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital for treatment. But he was instead told his son would be placed in prison for safekeeping and treatment. Upon his son’s release, which was three days before Wednesday’s altercation, Khalid Shabazz realised he had not received the help he needed. “When he came out he was really off-the-charts and I tried to talk to him about going [to Clarevue]. He didn’t want to go, he jumped out of my vehicle,” he said.
The police’s minor offence division was sought to assist the situation, to no avail. “I tried painstakingly for about two days. Spoke to the sergeants, spoke to the corporals down there. Stayed there for hours. Got the necessary numbers. There was a bunch of run-around,” he explained.
The father acknowledged the police officers’ efforts to remedy the situation with rubber bullets, however, he said he wished that other methods were employed before live bullets were subsequently used. After being shot at least four times with rubber bullets and live rounds on Wednesday afternoon, Shabazz was rushed to the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre.
He subsequently lost a kidney and remains in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Hospital sources told Observer he was breathing through a ventilator. According to eyewitness reports, Shabazz was in the vicinity of the Perry Bay Supermarket with “a long knife” and throwing stones at bystanders. A police statement issued yesterday said officers who arrived at the scene were “confronted by a man armed with a knife and bottles”.
“Attempts were made to subdue the man, during which he threw bottles at two officers injuring one to the head and the other to his chest,” the statement said. “The situation further escalated when the man advanced towards one officer with the knife. As a result, the man was shot. He fled the scene and was apprehended along South Street. EMS was contacted and the man was transported to the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre where he remains in stable condition.
“The injured officers were treated and discharged from the hospital.” The statement added that police were investigating the incident while “hoping for a speedy recovery of both officers and the injured man”.