NHeLP Condemns Killing of Ryan Gainer

NHeLP Condemns Killing of Ryan Gainer

On Saturday, March 9, 2024, Ryan Gainer, a 15-year-old Autistic Black boy, was shot and killed by a sheriff deputy in San Bernardino, California. We grieve with Ryan’s family, loved ones, and community members and call attention to the increasing police violence against Black people and people with disabilities.

While Ryan was experiencing a mental health crisis, the sheriff’s deputy arrived at Ryan’s house in response to a 911 call from his family member who was seeking help. During the altercation with the Deputy, Ryan was fatally shot multiple times when he was approaching the police officer with a gardening tool. Although deputies within the sheriff’s department had responded to previous calls when Ryan had experienced mental health crisis episodes, the deputy chose to fatally shoot Ryan. 

Unfortunately, Black disabled people are killed by police at higher rates due to the intersection of both racism and ableism that exists within the criminal justice system, in addition to police officers being ill-equipped to respond to mental health crises. It is imperative that such calls be responded to by mental health crisis response teams that consist of mental health professionals and caregivers. People experiencing a mental health crisis should be faced with compassion and care, not violence. 

Ryan was a cross-country runner, who aspired to become an engineer. Now, another Black life has been taken due to a police officer’s failure to respond appropriately to a mental health crisis. 

The National Health Law Program condemns Ryan’s killing and stands in solidarity with the call for a thorough investigation into the killing of Ryan Gainer. Black Disabled Lives Matter.

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