Disabled Lives Matter: An Open Letter to Jason Harrison’s Mother

Video: Dallas police open fire on schizophrenic man

Dear Ms. Harrison,

I just watched the horrific video of your son’s death and I am filled with emotion.

Let me start by stating that I am the daughter of a retired police officer, who was shot in the line of duty. Thankfully, for my father, his wounds were not fatal. I understand, firsthand, how challenging the job of a police officer is and I have tremendous respect for their bravery.

I clicked on the video of your son’s death with an open mind, expecting to see a bad situation gone terribly wrong. Instead, to my horror, I watched a video of your son being murdered.

As the mother of an adult-disabled child, I am heartbroken. I am shocked at how untrained, uncaring, and unprepared the police officers were to respond to your call for assistance. I am sickened by the heartless and calloused way they behaved while your son lay dying in your driveway. Hearing your screams and watching you run to the aid of your child brought me to tears. I cannot even begin to imagine your pain and the loss to your family.

For the past several months, the new media has been filed with coverage of protests and riots between police officers and the communities they are supposed to be serving. I have heard countless times – “Black Lives Matter.” If we truly desire to live in a society that values all life, where is the outrage for your son? Where is the “Disabled Lives Matter” protest?

The news coverage of your son’s murder seems to suggest that he somehow deserved to be shot because he was disabled. They are blaming him for not having the mental capacity and/or communication ability to understand and follow the officer’s instructions.

Weather or not your son lunged at the police, to me, is of no consequence. While a small screwdriver may pierce body armor and cause a wound, it does not justify lethal force. Where is the accountability of the police department? If your house were on fire, you would expect the firefighters to know how to operate the hose. Why is society excusing the lack of basic training of these officers? We can clearly see them taking an aggressive stance and shouting at your son. THEY escalated the situation. Their lack of basic psychological training should have disqualified them from responding to your home.

The sad reality is that society does not care about your son, or mine. There is no outrage at the lack of funding for quality adult programs, mental health services, or family support. We are forced to utilize law enforcement to assist us, while basic treatment is denied and/or cut.

I have had to make that call to law enforcement to assist me with my son, as well. It is not a phone call we make because we are bad parents or because we do not love our children. It is a call made out of necessity. It is a call made out of love to get the help our children should be receiving.

While the news media is minimizing the death of your son, I am writing this to tell you that his life mattered! It mattered to me and it mattered to every other mother of a disabled child.

Disabled Lives Matter, AH