Icarus Randolph – a Marine veteran who suffered from PTSD after serving in Iraq – became a casualty of Wichita police officers who ignored their department’s policy on helping mentally ill people, Randolph’s family alleges in a legal claim against the city.
The city on Tuesday released to The Eagle a copy of the full claim document, which demands $5 million and says that a Wichita police officer needlessly and wrongly shot and killed the 26-year-old in his mother’s front yard on July the Fourth as his family pleaded for help and watched in horror. Family members also were in the line of fire, the claim says.
The claim faults the actions of one officer in particular, saying that although he had training on dealing with the mentally ill, he violated the policy by escalating the situation. He argued with family members within earshot of Randolph, the claim says. Under the policy, the Randolph family should have been removed from the front yard to help de-escalate the situation and to protect them “if a situation goes badly,” the claim says.
The officer also worsened the situation and further violated the policy by stepping toward Randolph as he advanced and by failing to give himself room to withdraw, the family alleges. Wakarusa lawyer Lee Barnett filed the claim on behalf of the family on June 2. A claim is a required step before a lawsuit can be filed.
The Police Department’s policy says the main role of police in cases of mental illness is to de-escalate, to try to get treatment for the person, the claim says.
The city provided the full claim document on Tuesday in response to a request under the Kansas Open Records Act. The city said the request for a copy of the full claim was denied last week by mistake.
The city legal staff had no comment Tuesday other than to say it is reviewing the claim. The city has 120 days to respond.
On Friday, District Attorney Marc Bennett announced that the shooting didn’t warrant criminal charges against police, saying “the police officer was placed in a situation where he objectively and reasonably felt he needed to defend himself against the advance of someone who was not responding to calls ... either from the officer or from family.” Bennett provided a report saying that police saw Randolph approaching with a knife and that one officer shot him after a Taser failed to stop him.
Still, Randolph’s family is claiming that the city is liable for police not following Policy 519, which spells out how officers are to respond to emergencies involving mentally ill people.
The 15-page, single-spaced claim includes a detailed narrative, from the family’s perspective, on how the shooting unfolded this past July 4 at Randolph’s home in the 7800 block of East Clay, near Rock and Lincoln.
Relatives became concerned that day when Randolph began speaking disjointedly and “as if speaking to God and the trees.” The veteran, who had served in Iraq, had been awakened by fireworks the night before and seemed disturbed by the noise. He didn’t answer his relatives’ questions and sat at his computer, listening to music and holding a folding knife in his right hand.
His mother, Beverly Alford-Allen, went outside and called the community mental health agency, ComCare, and was told to call 911 and ask for an ambulance to take her son to a care facility for an assessment.
As a child, Alford-Allen had “witnessed … a police officer shoot her father to death, and being aware of the reputation of the Wichita police, (she) was hesitant to make the call to 911, fearing such a call might be a death sentence for her son,” the claim says.
The family ended up calling 911, and two officers – identified as Officer One and Officer Two – arrived at about 1:30 p.m. in response to a Code Orange call, which is a mental-health check.
Randolph remained inside the house. One of Randolph’s sisters, Ida Allen, “warned the officers, ‘When you go in, be alert. He’s got something in his hand.’”
While Officer One seemed helpful at first, Officer Two was not, the narrative says. When told “that someone from mental health had indicated that they needed EMS to bring Icarus in, Officer Two folded his arms across his chest and said, in an argumentative tone, ‘Who said that?’ It’s the Fourth of July!’”
Officer Two said Randolph didn’t have to go for treatment if he didn’t want to. When Randolph’s mother tried repeatedly to reach a 911 dispatcher, she kept getting directed back to Officer Two, who denied the family’s requests to send out a police supervisor, the narrative says.
During a 10- to 15-minute discussion between police and relatives, Randolph began yelling in the house; those outside heard things being hit or thrown around. Randolph was “roaring loudly.”
And then this, according to the claim: “The officers saw Icarus kick the screen out, come out walking slowly. Icarus wasn’t heading for any specific person or destination, but was just walking. He did have something in his right hand, but it could not be seen at the time and his right hand was down by his side.” The family pleaded for him to go back inside.
Officer Two, standing by a tree, “moved forward into Icarus’ path.”
The family doesn’t recall any commands being given by police for Randolph to stop.
He was “walking slowly … had his hands at his side in a non-threatening manner,” the narrative continues. His eyes were “expressionless,” “vacant.”
Officer Two fired his Taser at Randolph, “rapidly dropped it” and fired four rounds from his handgun without pause at close range at Randolph’s midsection. As Randolph fell, Officer Two retreated, backing into a car, the claim says.
When Randolph’s mother moved forward, the officer “aimed his gun at her and said, ‘Get back, or I’ll shoot you too.’”
Although “a knife was reportedly found near” Randolph’s body, the claim says, “none of the family saw it in his hand when he came out of the house before he was shot.”
“No ambulance or assistance was called or offered for 10-15 minutes,” it says.
The claim notes an earlier incident involving Randolph that ended well. On May 7, 2014, two days after the mental-illness policy was adopted, Randolph “was one of the first people successfully treated under that policy,” when police responded and he was peacefully taken to a care facility and treated.
“The fact that police had followed the protocol previously gave a reasonable expectation in the mind of the family members that they would follow the protocol this time,” the claim says.
But the way it happened on July 4, the officers failed to follow the policy, setting up the circumstances that caused Randolph’s death, the claim concludes.
Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or email@example.com.