On the One-Year Anniversary of NYPD Officers Shooting and Nearly Killing Him While He Was in the Midst of a Mental Health Crisis, Bronx Man Sues NYPD

March 29, 2024

Baerga v. City of New York, CCIT-NYC, Disability Justice, Health Justice, Immigrant Justice, Media Coverage, News, Transforming Mental Health Crisis Response, de la Cruz vs. NYC

NYLPI Peers Not Police Rally

On the one-year anniversary of his shooting, Raul de la Cruz filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the City of New York, Mayor Eric Adams, current Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban, former Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell, and the NYPD officers who shot and nearly killed Mr. de la Cruz. Not one more death or near death of a New Yorker with a mental disability at the hands of the NYPD can be tolerated.

Sadly, what happened to Mr. de la Cruz is yet another in a long series of dire incidents caused by New York City’s policy and practice of sending NYPD officers to address mental health crises. This approach is ineffective and can be – and has in fact been – deadly. National and local experts as well as the United States Department of Justice have concluded that relying on the police to address mental health crises is more likely to exacerbate than alleviate the mental health issues and to result in harm to people who are in need. Mr. de la Cruz’s experience demonstrates these same long-standing failures by New York City and the NYPD. 

“Mental health crises are healthcare issues. New York City’s practice of sending police officers as first responders is outdated, discriminatory, and too often deadly, especially for people of color. Our City must join communities across the country and around the world that have replaced police with trained health professionals and individuals with lived mental health experience when people experience a mental health crisis,” said Marinda van Dalen, Litigation Director, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI).  

Read or download full press release here. Download the amended complaint here.

Photo: NYLPI and coalition partners hold up “Peers Not Police” and “Decriminalize Mental Health Crises” signs at a CCIT-NYC rally.

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