Disturbing video shows how Stillwater police responded to a mental health crisis
A critical call: who responds to a mental health crisis? If you have never been impacted by mental illness, you might be surprised by the answer.
Often it is law enforcement and depending on the level of training and experience, the outcome can be disastrous.
Charleen Hunter admits she has struggled with mental health issues throughout much of her life. She is a survivor of sexual abuse and deals with PTSD.
It came to a head last fall, with a disturbing encounter involving Stillwater police.
The video is tough to watch, but it is real. Charlene said this is proof the system needs to change.
Diagnosed with bipolar and struggling to find the right medication, Charleen was in an out of the hospital repeatedly.
Hallucinations, paranoia, and violent outbursts brought Stillwater police to her apartment with involuntary transport orders several times. Including a day in September 2021.
For Charleen, seeing the hospital order was not enough at that time. She still refused to comply and, while her husband waited downstairs, things took an ugly turn.
“All I could hear was screaming, yelling, begging, pleading. You’re talking from a 2nd-floor apartment to the front almost to next door,” Ryan Hunter said. “I just assume she’s overreacting…my hope is that she’s just screaming and yelling and not getting hurt.”
Charleen does not remember a lot of what happened that day, including the officers and ems carrying her head first, hands and feet restrained, down the narrow staircase of her second-floor apartment. Leaving her on the sidewalk.
Charleen’s husband does remember the frightening episode and says these officers seemed focused on a quick resolution at any cost.
“When it’s not something that is an imminent danger like somebody on a bridge or somebody standing on a ledge, they have all the time in the world. They get paid to spend their time helping us. They’re not willing to spend their time helping us. If they’re in a rush, it’s not a good enough excuse to do their job improperly.”
Despite all she’s been through, Charleen said she is stronger and healthier than ever.
She now has several open investigations, involving Stillwater police, and the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department, and she even filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office.
However, she also has a message for the Stillwater police officers who responded that day.
“I do have to say this because I’m sorry. I’m sorry that happened and I’m sorry I acted that way,” Charleen said. ‘Just me as a person, I’m sorry but I was not in the wrong. I was very vulnerable. I was not myself and I had no clue which way was what at that time.”
13 Investigates did reach out to the Stillwater police chief for an interview and while he initially agreed, we have yet to hear back from him.
Meanwhile, Charlene and her husband both say what happened to her is proof the system is broken and she would like to help fix it.
Watch part two, here.