'He wasn't mentally fit': Son challenges mental health specialist's protocol after dad shot dead by Metro police

‘He wasn’t mentally fit’: Son challenges mental health specialist’s protocol after dad shot dead by Metro police

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A man whose father was killed by subway police wonders what the police did before the shooting. Officers responded to the Davidson-Cheatham County line last weekend to a report that a man was throwing objects at cars.

Subway Police shot and killed Drandon Brown after he said he charged them with a knife.

Police recently began pairing mental health specialists with officers on certain calls. Now Brown’s son wonders where they were when his father died.

“I always expected to find out he was dead, but not with this level of violence,” said Christopher Brown, Drandon’s son.

Christopher admitted it had been around three years since he last spoke with his father, who had a long history with drugs and alcohol. However, Christopher says he always left the door open for a relationship, even when other family members had given up.

Living across state lines in Kentucky, Christopher says it was a knock on his door around 3 a.m. this weekend that worried him. Christopher explained for years that he always imagined learning of his father’s death long after it happened.

Hours after learning of Drendon’s death, he watched body camera footage released by the Tube Police.

“The guy I saw in the video wasn’t the same guy I spoke to, even in 2019. He obviously seemed like a lot was going on and he wasn’t mentally fit,” Christopher said.

According to Metro Police, the entire interaction took place in exactly 71 seconds, from the time the police arrived until the shots were fired.

“Clearly there is something wrong. I mean it was pretty clear from the 911 calls that someone was not in their right mind,” Christopher said.

Audio from the dispatch describes: “We had someone calling him earlier yelling at cars” and “he’s still in the same area, but now he’s throwing tree branches at cars, on the road”.

Footage from that night showed what led to the deadly encounter.

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“When one officer said to the other something like are you ready, that seems to be when the wheels came off, and that’s when it came to a confrontation instead of a conversation,” Christopher said.

Shortly after, tasers were deployed. In the video, you can see they didn’t stop Brown from continuing to walk. Police told News 2 that his thick jacket blocked most of the impact. However, Christopher said what happened he believed could have saved his father’s life.

“I believe we are sorely lacking in this whole country when it comes to mental health care and having mental health advocates on the scene during a call like this,” Christopher said.

The MNPD has a specialist program for people in mental health crisis through Partners in Care, which is why Christopher wondered why they hadn’t been called.

Last year, the Metro Nashville Police Department launched the “Partners in Care” program. It combines mental health professionals with subway officers to respond to 911 emergencies when needed. The pilot program has been operational for nearly 12 months now, and Randolph explained from looking at the data, it’s clear the program is needed.

“He was an old man, and even the officer who fired who was on his right, he was backing up much faster than my father was moving forward. It just seems like there was a better way to de-escalate the situation,” Christopher said.

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Subway police say the program is not yet operating in the West Ward, where the incident occurred, the program is also not operating on weekends, even though it operated during that time, the incident happened too quickly to call for help.

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