Campus Roiled After Fatal Shooting

A Georgia Tech police vehicle was torched and three people were arrested during a protest this week. Anger has grown over news that officer involved in fatal shooting was never trained in responding to situations involving people with mental-health issues.

September 21, 2017
 
Protest at Georgia Tech

After a Georgia Tech police officer fatally shot a student Saturday, the campus has erupted over the police department's handling of the situation, with at least three protesters arrested and a police cruiser set ablaze.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation revealed the officer, Tyler Beck, who killed the student had only served on duty for about a year and had not undergone training necessary to deal with subjects with potential mental-health issues.

Scout Schultz, a 21-year-old student with a history of mental-health issues, died Sunday after being shot in the heart, family members said. Schultz was the president of the student group representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students and preferred the pronouns “they” and “them,” having identified as nonbinary and intersex.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which will review the incident, said this week that three suicide notes were found in Schultz’s room. Schultz had attempted suicide before.

It also released audio of a 911 call in which Schultz claims someone, possibly inebriated, was roaming the campus near one of the dormitories and carrying a knife and gun. Police confronted Schultz near that building Saturday. They held what officials have called a knife but Schultz’s family said was a multitool without any blade extended.

Multiple times officers attempt to speak with Schultz, who only responded with “shoot me,” per video of the event posted online.

At one point, Schultz slowly moved toward a group of some of the officers present -- someone directed them to “drop it,” but Schultz did not comply. Footage shows Schultz screaming and falling after a gunshot. Schultz was not carrying a gun.

Experts in previous interviews questioned why officers were not armed with Tasers. The university confirmed officers' other weapon is pepper spray.

A Georgia Tech police officer handcuffs a protester, who is lying facedown on the ground, at a protest after the shooting death of Scout Schultz.

Beck has been placed on paid leave, according to the university. He began working as an officer in spring 2016. Though he participated in more than 550 hours of training in the past two years, none was in the crisis-intervention preparation designed to deal with subjects with possible mental illness.

Following a candlelit vigil for Schultz on Monday, about 50 protesters marched to the Georgia Tech Police Department headquarters, according to the university (protest is seen at right). They carried a banner that read “protect LGBTQ” and were chanting.

A police car was set on fire and two officers suffered minor injuries, according to Georgia Tech. Three people were arrested and charged with inciting a riot and battery of an officer, the university said. One, Cassandra Monden, was a Georgia Tech student; the other two, Jacob Wilson and Vincent Castillenti, were not.

The Schultz family's lawyer, L. Chris Stewart, published a statement to Twitter on the family’s behalf, calling for peaceful protests.

“Our goal is to work diligently to make positive change at Georgia Tech in an effort to ensure a safer campus,” the statement reads. “This is how we will truly honor Scout’s life and legacy. Scout’s family respects the rights of those who wish to voice their opposition to what they feel is an unnecessary use of force, but they ask that it be done respectfully.”

Earlier, the family had said via the lawyer that Schultz’s “cry for help … was met with a bullet.”

Georgia Tech President G. P. Peterson in a statement Tuesday urged the campus not to draw conclusions too quickly and to wait until the Georgia bureau concluded its investigation.

“For now, we are focusing on mourning the loss and remembering Scout’s many contributions to the Georgia Tech community over the past four years. Last night’s vigil at the Campanile that was coordinated by the Pride Alliance and the Progressive Student Alliance was attended by almost 500 community members including Scout’s family. Unfortunately, they were also joined by several dozen others intent on creating a disturbance and inciting violence. We believe many of them were not part of our Georgia Tech community, but rather outside agitators intent on disrupting the event. They certainly did not honor Scout’s memory nor represent our values by doing so.

“Rest assured that our campus community is responding to these recent events in a positive and constructive manner, in spite of the many challenges they represent. I am grateful for our students, faculty, staff, campus leaders, and for our campus police. The response by our students to last night’s events is particularly heartwarming -- they were on Facebook and Twitter through the night trying to find ways to show support and to say this is not who we are.”

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