The family of the teen shot and killed by Rockford Police breaks their silence. Logan Bell's parents say their son did not have to die. They said he had bipolar disorder and needed to be helped, not harmed.
The family spoke out through a statement read by the pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church. The Reverend Dr. Kenneth Board stood in the same spot Bell, 18, died after his confrontation with police.
"Mental illness should not be confused with criminality. Mental illness should be handled with concern and compassion. As we see it the only thing criminal here has been the response to the situation by the Rockford Police Department," says Pastor Board.
Bell was shot last Thursday, October 11th by Rockford Officers after his family called 9-1-1 saying they feared he would harm himself. The family called for changes in how police deal with people who are suffering a mental health crisis.
"They approached this situation as if they were engaging with someone with criminal intent," says Lloyd Johnston, NAACP President of the Rockford chapter.
Police say Bell had a gun. They told him several times to drop it. According to investigators, at one point he pointed the weapon towards officers. That's when they shot him.
Police later found out it was a pellet gun that looked like the real thing. Bell's family says there should have been more effort to get people who deal with mental illness or even another family member to talk to Bell.
"We are asking that truth and justice prevail quickly in this matter, not months but days. This senseless killing is very devastating to us all. We do not want another family in Rockford to experience this kind of tragedy caused by police insensitivity," says Pastor Board.
The Winnebago County Integrity Task Force which is investigating the shooting says it is trying to come to a fast resolution. Right now the group's waiting on lab results.
Pastor Board could not say if Bell had been on any medication or receiving any treatments for bipolar disorder.
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