Bessemer mother calls for policy changes after mentally ill son shot by officer

BESSEMER, Ala. (WIAT) — Donald Ray Wilson, 47, was shot in the chest Friday after he would not cooporate with officers while holding a steak knife.

Wilson’s mother, Betty Moore, says her son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia 14 years ago. Now, her family is calling for policy changes within the Bessemer Police Department. They say if someone is mentally ill, there should be protocol in place to protect them and the officers.

Wilson has been upgraded to fair condition at UAB Hospital. Moore says her family continues to pray constantly for Wilson’s recovery.

Bessemer police say they were called to the area after receiving a call from a concerned citizen about Wilson’s behavior. Moore says she felt helpless when she heard about the standoff situation.

“I said, ‘They are going to kill him. He is afraid and they’ve got him surrounded and he doesn’t know which way to go,’” said Moore.

Wilson was prescribed monthly shots to treat his mental illness, but Moore says he has refused to take them for about a year. Despite a criminal record for theft and robbery, she says her son is compassionate and caring. She says his struggle with paranoid schizophrenia causes him to be misunderstood.

“One day he is okay like anyone else. And in the next few minutes, he’s talking to himself, he sees things, and he hears voices. Then he starts getting paranoid any thinks everyone is out for him and out to do something to him,” Moore said.

Chief Nathaniel Rutledge maintains that his officers followed protocol.

Moore says she cannot understand why Wilson was shot in the chest.

“Why would they want to kill him? Are you going to kill all the sick people? I don’t care what they’re trained to do. Are you going to kill all the people with mental illness,” said Moore.

The State Department of Investigations has taken over the case. The family believes Wilson will make a full recovery.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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