Ariel Galarza, 49, is dead after New York Police Department officers were called to his Bronx home yesterday (November 2).
New York Daily News reports that the officers were responding to a call about a man with a knife who “appeared emotionally disturbed.” Sergeant William Melrose and three uniformed officers say Galarza threatened them with a broken glass bottle when they entered his apartment in the basement of a multifamily home. The sergeant says he used his stun gun on the man, who then fell, but quickly recovered and attempted to fight with the officers. Melrose then shocked the man again, which caused a deadly episode of cardiac arrest.
Galarza’s death is being investigated by the department’s Force Investigation Division, and the state attorney general’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit is reviewing the case to see if it warrants an outside investigation. The Daily News reports that Melrose has not yet faced any discipline for the death. The outlet also notes that Melrose has been named in two lawsuits related to his work on the force. In 2012, the city settled a case in which a man alleged that Melrose and other officers falsely arrested, strip-searched and assaulted him with a Taser. And last year, Melrose and other officers were sued for wrongful arrest (the paper was unable to determine the outcome of that complaint).
This incident comes just days after NYPD officers shot and killed Deborah Danner, a 66-year-old Black woman with schizophrenia; King County (Washington) sheriff’s deputies killed Renee Davis, a suicidal 23-year-old Native woman; and Torrance, California police killed Michelle Shirley, a 39-year-old Black woman with bipolar disorder. Many are questioning how police officers are being trained to interact with people who are experiencing a mental health crisis.
Imagine if 911 sent mental health professionals to mental health emergencies instead of police who are trained to kill. https://t.co/eLutsQZeNr— Robin (@caulkthewagon) October 30, 2016