Family of man killed by police say they told police he was Schizophrenic prior to shooting

Posted at 6:56 PM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 14:31:03-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Wednesday night the family of Jose Ramirez, who was shot and killed by Bakersfield Police Tuesday said Ramirez was having a schizophrenic episode when he stabbed his own mother.

23ABC News spoke to his sister, Maria Niavez and the Director of The Kern Behavioral Health Department to better understand what happened and to gain insight on schizophrenia.

Niavez, who did not wish to be on camera because she was still in the hospital visiting her mother, told 23ABC News that her brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and he was having an episode Tuesday when he stabbed his mother.

She said she is devastated that people on social media are saying that her brother deserved to die and now she regrets calling the Bakersfield Police Department for help.

Niavez told 23ABC News that it was a big sister’s worst nightmare on Tuesday.

“I picked up my brother and my mom to give them a ride to a men's home because he wanted to go to church and stuff. So I went to drop them off there and it was a good, normal ride, no problems, no arguments or anything and when the guy came out to get him he just stabbed my mom out of nowhere,” Niavez said.

According to Niavez, her 27 year-old brother, Ramirez has never been violent before this moment but she had no choice but to call police when her brother took off running with a knife still in hand on Sonora Street in East Bakersfield.

Bakersfield Police said, officers responded to a man who stabbed his mother multiple times.

They said officers made contact with the suspect Ramirez and tried to take him into custody using nonlethal ammunition, but that he didn't cooperate and that's when one officer shot and killed him.

Niavez said she now wishes she never called the police at all,

“Because now I feel that because of my phone call to police, now my brother is gone.”

Niavez said she is speaking out because she feels the outcome of the situation is odd and she wants the community to know her brother is not a monster but struggled with mental illness.

“I feel if someone is charging you with a knife one shot to a leg or one shot to the hand or shoulder is enough to disarm someone you know? He had four shots to his abdomen, no one is going to survive four shots to an abdomen. I just think officers motto is shoot to kill and I hate to feel that way because I have family that’s in law enforcement, but I just can’t see four shots to an abdomen for someone holding a knife.”

She said her mom, who is now in stable condition remembers Niavez specifically sharing with police over the phone that her brother was a schizophrenic during the 911 call Tuesday.

Niavez said because her brother was refusing to take his medication, he would still utter rude remarks frequently, was paranoid a lot and he didn’t trust doctors or anyone else.

The Director of Kern Behavioral Health, Bill Walker said this is something that is commonly found in schizophrenic patients.

“Quite often the person with schizophrenia, because of their paranoia, does not avail themselves to treatment voluntarily,” Walker said.

Walker also said that if there is a subject who appears to be dealing with mental health issues, officers are supposed to call on the Kern Behavioral Health Mobile Unit that's contracted with the Bakersfield Police Department to help address the situation.

Niavez said her mother made it out of surgery Wednesday and is expected to survive.

Police have not released more information regarding the nonlethal methods that they said they attempted to use on Ramirez.

We also reached out to BPD to determine whether officers called for the mental health back up unit before they shot Ramirez and we have not heard back.