Parents plead for police restraint "Bullets are not the answer," says Tyler Rushing's father

by Dave Waddell

Scott Rushing stood Sunday across Main Street from the title company building in which his son, Tyler, was shot to death July 23 by Chico police.

“I guess you could call it his mausoleum,” said Rushing, before conducting a moment of silence in memory of his only son and other victims of law enforcement killings in Butte County. Rushing said he found it “particularly abhorrent” that his son’s body was Tased and handcuffed after the fatal shooting.

photo by Dave Waddell

The father of Tyler Rushing, Scott Rushing (center), talks with concerned Chico citizens.

A bit earlier, Rushing, along with his wife Paula, had spoken to a group of about two dozen gathered at the corner of Fourth and Main streets – City Hall serving as a backdrop – and he made a tearful plea for police restraint in dealing with people in mental crisis. (See video at right.)

“When someone is mentally ill or mentally impaired, they need help,” Scott Rushing said. “Bullets are not the answer.”

“Tyler was all about peace, love and positivity,” Paula Rushing told the group.

The supporters, holding flowers and balloons, walked the two blocks to Mid Valley Title and Escrow Co. at Sixth and Main, where Tyler Rushing, 34, of Ventura, was killed by police.

Tyler Rushing is accused of stabbing a private security guard and two police officers with an unspecified weapon. He was first shot by the guard and later shot and killed by one of the officers, Sgt. Scott Ruppel. The shooting remains under investigation by District Attorney Mike Ramsey, who has provided few details.

Tyler’s father also said he’s surprised how much clout DA Ramsey wields in investigating officer-involved killings in Butte County.

“In this county, it’s just one person,” Rushing said. “That’s a lot of power to give to one person.”

photo by Dave Waddell

City Plaza display

Earlier Sunday, the Rushings attended a remembrance at City Plaza for Desmond Phillips, a 25-year-old mentally ill black man who was shot 11 times March 17 by Chico police in his living room, as well as for others killed by law enforcement. Both Scott Rushing and David Phillips, Desmond’s father, spoke emotionally at the event, as did James Sharpe, father of Breanne Sharpe, who was 19 when killed by Chico police in 2013.

After the Tyler Rushing vigil, reporters and supporters viewed the title company’s fenced and hedged-in exterior patio area where the guard was stabbed by and shot Rushing. Rushing then fled inside to a restroom, where he died after police broke in.

In Ventura, Tyler Rushing operated a successful window-washing business. “You can’t be on drugs and be up on a ladder,” his father told ChicoSol.

photo by Dave Waddell

Remembrance for Desmond Phillips

Rushing also was involved in helping to stage music concerts throughout the state. It was at one such concert, the Northern Nights Musical Festival in Piercy, that all of his belongings were stolen. He made his way to Chico, but the rest of his story is shrouded in mystery, said Scott Rushing.

Tyler’s father suspects that Chico’s mid-July heat, as well as a lack of food and sleep, probably took a toll on Tyler mentally. “Living the homeless life for a few days, it got to him,” Scott Rushing theorized.

Dave Waddell is news director at ChicoSol.

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