Young man with wire rimmed glasses and goatee

On January 14, 2017, 36-year-old Jaron Thomas called for help, as he had done several times before by the advice of mental health professionals. Jaron, diagnosed with schizophrenia, was struggling with hallucinations. He was a gifted hip-hop lyricist, having at one point worked with well-known artist Bizzy-Bone. He knew that he needed help and had calmly asked for a medic on the 911 call obtained by the family. He expected to be admitted for treatment, in his hometown of Columbus, but the response he received instead was from officers with the Columbus Police Department. It is unclear what transpired, but the result was inexplicable injuries and brain damage.

According to the family’s legal team Walton and Brown, LLP, “Several Columbus Police officers responded to the scene. Jaron was hospitalized with severe brain damage, head contusions, a blood clot near his sternum, at least one broken rib and other injuries.”

Surrounded by his close-knit family and a host of loved ones and friends, this loving father of three fought for his life. He lost the battle on January 23rd, roughly one week after his brutal and tragic encounter with police.

A press release about the incident reported that Jaron family has “…received no response from the Columbus Police Department as to why Jaron suffered the aforementioned injuries, although the family filed a formal complaint with the Internal Affairs Bureau of the Columbus Police Department on January 15, 2017...On January 20, 2017, the Columbus Police Department released a preliminary investigative report that stated that Jaron suffered an accidental overdose. It states that officers responded to the scene, and makes no mention of any altercation with Jaron. The report simply reads that ‘officers arrived on scene and advised medics to come in.’”

In addition to Walton and Brown, who is also representing others looking for answers from CPD (including the families of Henry Green and Tyre King), Jaron Thomas’ family has retained attorney John Marshall of Marshall and Morrow, LLC, to assist in finding answers. The family asks any individuals with information about what may have happened that night to come forward and contact them. The family also asks that the Columbus Police Department conduct their investigation into this matter in a timely fashion. While aware that investigations are to be completed within 90 days of being filed, the family asks for answers from the Columbus Police Department as soon as reasonably possible.

The family has set up a campaign to raise funds for an independent autopsy and to help support their private investigation into this matter. Local media and the police department have been absolutely silent, while the family has pushed hard on social media to get the word out.

  According to experts and an article in The Washington Post, “Distraught People, Deadly Results,” officers often lack the training to approach the mentally unstable. “This a national crisis,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, an independent research organization devoted to improving policing. “We have to get American police to rethink how they handle encounters with the mentally ill. Training has to change.”

In addition to the lack of training, policies around how police report these incidents are loose and don’t paint an adequate picture of the widespread nature of this issue.

Refugees are welcome here! No human being is illegal!

On Friday, January 27, we will be rallying near the Thompson Statue on the OSU Oval (at 4pm) in response to Trump’s explicit targeting of refugee and immigrant communities.

In the seven days since Trump has taken power, he has pushed forward a slate of reactionary executive orders:

• Authorizing the expansion of the US-Mexico border wall

• Stripping federal grant money to sanctuary cities

• Hiring 5000 border patrol agents

• Reviving Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline

• Banning federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize or promote abortion

• Gutting healthcare

• And he is expected to temporarily ban immigration from Muslim countries such as Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia

In the coming days and months, we can only expect more and more legislation aimed at attacking people based upon their race, gender, sexuality, religion, or citizenship status. We need to resist each and every one of these attacks without hesitation.

An injury to one is an injury to all and when we’re under attack we need to stand up and fight back.


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