Professor blasts Chico cops in fatal shooting Police should act as 'peacekeepers,' not 'gunslingers'

Diane E. Schmidt
Diane E. Schmidt

by Dave Waddell

In an unusually pointed letter, a veteran professor in Chico State’s criminal justice program has blasted the killing of Desmond Phillips by Chico police as showing “extraordinarily poor training, flawed judgment, and gross ineptitude.”

Phillips, a 25-year-old mentally ill black man, was shot 10 times by two officers in his father’s living room just 21 minutes after medical aid was first called to help him March 17.

In a letter dated May 15 to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey, Professor Diane E. Schmidt called Phillips’ shooting both a failure of training by Chico PD and of oversight by officials such as Ramsey. The district attorney did not immediately return a call from ChicoSol seeking response to Schmidt’s letter.

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Student challenges mental health stigma College can be tough time for those with disorders

Alexa Thornblad

photo by Hannah Panten

Studying at the coffee shop

By Hannah Panten

“I’m bipolar,” Chico State freshman Alexa Thornblad says casually, sipping her white mocha. Thornblad uses the tattooed back of her arm to wipe milk froth from her lip. Giggling, she holds up a No. 1 with her tiny index finger, then explains: “Bipolar 1 Disorder.” Tugging on her four-sizes-too-large corduroy pants, she sits in the corner of Naked Lounge — an eccentric cafe she frequents sometimes when she feels no drive to go to class.

Thornblad, an 18-year-old Los Angeles native, is majoring in sociology and liberal studies. Contrary to popular practice, she has no issue speaking up about her recently diagnosed mental disorders. Her first glimpse of depression came in 10th grade, soon after realizing she’s bisexual, but it wasn’t until last winter that she got diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and Borderline Personality Disorder. Thornblad attributes her late diagnosis to her parents not believing in mental disorders. She also believes that her parents’ lack of concern about mental health is not unusual.

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Swift siege leads to fatal shooting, family’s ire Home had calmed at time cops entered

photo by Karen LasloDelphine Norman, mother of Desmond Phillips, protests outside the April 17 town hall meeting held by Rep. Doug LaMalfa.

photo by Karen Laslo

Delphine Norman, mother of Desmond Phillips, protests outside the April 17 town hall meeting held by Rep. Doug LaMalfa.

by Dave Waddell

The night of Desmond Phillips’ March 17 killing, a Chico police officer shined a flashlight at a window a few paces to the left of the front door of his father’s apartment.

Before that door was forced open, before the knife-holding Desmond was first shot with a Taser and then riddled with police bullets, and before Dave Phillips, shocked and wailing, crawled down the hallway to his dying son’s side, the officer saw an eye peeking through the closed blind.

Behind the blind were Desmond Phillips’ two nephews, ages 12 and 18, together in one of the small home’s two locked bedrooms, on the phone with their mother. Dave Phillips, who had grown increasingly frantic about Desmond’s behavior, had locked himself in the other bedroom and was talking with a police dispatcher.

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Speakers call for outside investigator in police shooting review 21 minutes from medical call to killing

Phillips family photo Desmond Phillips

Phillips family photo

Desmond Phillips

by Dave Waddell

Just 21 minutes elapsed between the time medical aid was first summoned to help Desmond Phillips and the moment when he was gunned down in a hail of Chico police bullets.

Authorities disclosed details this week about the shooting of Phillips, a 25-year-old mentally disturbed black man, who was killed by police in his father’s living room.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey told an April 3 meeting of the Human Relations Network of Butte County (HRN) that two young officers, fearing for their safety, fired 16 rounds at Phillips, hitting him 10 times. Phillips died shortly after being rushed to Enloe Medical Center, he said.

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Fatal shooting by Chico police sparks protests Community calls for probe by outside agency

photo by Karen Laslo
 

photo by Karen Laslo

Bethel AME Church service 

by Dave Waddell

An estimated 200 people turned out Sunday evening to protest the fatal shooting by Chico police of a mentally ill black man who officers say threatened them with a knife.

The demonstration began with a remembrance for Desmond Phillips, 25, at the Bethel AME Church on Ninth Street. It then moved to the front of the Chico Police Department, where an emotional candlelight vigil was held. Speakers expressed outrage at the killing “of this dear brother of ours,” as one put it, and called for a federal investigation into the shooting.

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