COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The family of the 22-year-old man who died Friday during an officer-involved shooting in Columbia has hired a lawyer and sent a letter to Columbia Mayor Barbra Buffaloe.
In the letter, the family of Marquis Rivera demands to see the police body camera footage from the incident, hear the recording of phone calls with 911 dispatchers and receive a copy of the police report.
"Given our son was suffering from some type of mental health crisis and called the police for help, we would also like to listen to the audio recordings of the phone calls between your dispatch operators and our son," the letter signed by Katuiscia Penette and Ralph Edwards reads.
Police were called twice Friday to the apartment at The Landing, a complex on Campusview Drive in south Columbia, for a reportedly suicidal man. When officers arrived the second time, the person had a gun and allegedly shot first in the air, then at officers, according to Columbia Police. More than one officer returned fire and the suspect was killed.
Penette and Edwards were at Rivera's apartment Monday along with his siblings cleaning out his belongings.
"Look, I'm not blaming anybody for anything that happened to my son, but I just want I just want to see how they say that it happened," Riveria's mother Katuiscia Penette said.
The family hired Andrew Stroth of Action Injury Law Group to do an independent investigation into the shooting.
"Marquis was experiencing a mental health crisis and called the police for help. Instead of helping this young man, the officers shot and killed Marquis," Stroth said. "The family is demanding to see the video to see what happened."
Police said in a news release Friday that Rivera fired, then officers returned fire, "resulting in the subject's death."
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is investigating the shooting. In a Monday update, a Highway Patrol spokesperson said the investigation is ongoing and will likely take several months.
“The death of Mr. Rivera is a tragic incident for his family and our community. Our condolences are with his family and community members impacted by this unfortunate event. The Columbia Police Department is currently in the process of gathering information and records which will be released to Mr. Rivera’s family. My thoughts are with them as they grieve the loss of their loved one,” Buffaloe said in a statement sent to ABC 17 News on Monday night.
The Columbia Police Department closed bids for behavioral health co-responders to help with mental health calls in June. City officials tell ABC 17 News the city is currently considering bids before moving forward with the program. The co-responders would go with police to mental health calls in an effort to de-escalate the situation.
"It should be some kind of mechanism in the police department with mental health, mental health crisis team can be called out a professional to ride with the police officers. You know, those are some of the questions that need to be asked. Why didn't you use those tactics?" said Rivera's father Ralph Edwards in an interview with ABC 17 News.
According to the bidding documents, the city set aside just under $600,000 for the program. The documents are unclear on where that funding comes from, whether it's a grant or part of the budget. The department already has a mental health liaison paid for by the state but that service isn't always available, according to the request for proposals.