Family of man killed by DeKalb police files lawsuit - KMSP-TV

Family of man killed by DeKalb police files lawsuit

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The family of a man killed by DeKalb County police officers during a schizophrenic breakdown two years ago is filing a lawsuit against the department.

Sage Happ-Williams was 28 when he was shot and killed by officers during a SWAT standoff on Feb. 25, 2012. His family says he did not have to die, and hopes this lawsuit will force the DeKalb County Police Department to adopt new training protocols.

"Hell -- it's like your heart is ripped out when your child has died," said Sage's mother, Kathy Happ.

Kathy Happ says that's what she's felt every day for the past two years.

"It's got to stop, police are killing mentally ill people all over the country for no reason," Happ said.

At the time he was shot, Sage was suffering a schizophrenic breakdown and was armed with a gun.

"We will not, and do not, believe that he was threatening anyone with any gun," said family attorney Brian Spears.
Police later determined the shooting was justified.

"The fact that they claim it was anything other than justified doesn't matter to us," Spears said.

Happ says she arrived with prescription medication that could have helped her son, but says police prevented her from getting it to him. With this lawsuit, she's hoping for change.

"Police shouldn't have to be handling mentally ill people, they need to have special units trained to deal with the mentally ill," Happ said.

Her daughter, Kendra Happ Williams, says police need better training to handle mentally ill people.

"We want DeKalb County -- and hopefully the rest of Atlanta -- to realize that this is an epidemic. That it has to stop," Kendra Happ Williams said.

Spears says the goal of the lawsuit is to force DeKalb County to re-evaluate their training protocols.

"We believe and know that there is training available that could have resulted in an intervention that could have involved not the use of deadly force, but instead would have brought this crisis to an end without the use of firearms," Spears said.

The lawsuit does seek monetary damages but the family's attorney could not give us an idea of how much they're seeking. The DeKalb County Police Department did not respond to FOX 5's request for comment.

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