Diagnosed Schizophrenic Garrit Vos was shot by Newport Police
It was around 8:40 p.m. when the Newport police shot an agitated outside of a local 7-Eleven store. Witnesses claimed Vos shouted that he wanted to be killed and was cursing at others with a pair of scissors.
Several police officers and a canine unit arrived at the scene and was informed by the witnesses that Vos did not have a gun but a pair of scissors. It appeared that Vos was either under the influence of some kind of drug or suffered from a psychiatric disorder.
One of the officers had a 40-millimeter less-lethal projectile launcher. Why? Apparently, the first officer on the scene had requested the weapon. The rest of the officers had tasers yet when Vos went running out of the store and towards the police, the projectile launcher was fired along with two AR-15, directly hitting Vos’ shoulder, thigh, and chest.
Witnesses said they heard about five shots when Vos collapsed, bleeding from his head. According to the parents, the Newport Beach police used “excessive, unwarranted and brutal” force when they shot a 22-year-old with a psychiatric disorder. Investigators discovered that Vos was a diagnosed schizophrenic who last year and entered rehabilitation for heavy drug use. There was methamphetamine in his system when the incident occurred.
“Vos didn’t have a mean bone in his body,” said Christian Kekel, a classmate who attended beauty school with Vos in Lake Forest. Kekel said he was shocked when he heard police had killed his friend. “I could never imagine him being in a situation where he was being aggressive enough to be shot to death,” he said.
“He was the greatest guy ever, an absolute angel,” Kekel said.
Gerrit Vos’ parents Richard Vos and Jenelle Bernacchi, is now filing a wrongful death lawsuit for $25 million from the city of Newport Beach, claiming that the police officer could have avoided killing their son.
However, the ruling allows Vos’ parents to press their suit against Newport Beach, but not against the individual officers who shot their son. The court said those officers were immune from liability under the law at the time.
Judge Carlos T. Bea said,
“that in all circumstances the governmental interest in deadly force is diminished where the subject is mentally ill…Whether the person who charges the officer does so out of a base desire to kill, or does so because, in the midst of a psychotic episode, he thinks the officer is a monster or a ghost, the danger to the officer is the same.”
The deceased parents believed their son did not pose an immediate threat such that the use of deadly force was warranted yet the district attorney’s final report said there was no criminal wrongdoing thus there where no charges were filed against the officers.