Category Archives: Theresa Sheehan

A Case that Can Set Precedent For Police Treatment Of The Mentally Ill

The Supreme Court for the United States takes case involving the San Francisco Police Department’s shooting of a mentally disabled woman.

We have read the headlines and tweets about members of law enforcement using excessive force, even killing, people who are mentally ill. Yesterday, I volunteered for a research project. I’m retired but now realize even more why I enjoy taking on these projects — not only does it help professionals who help others, but I always learn from them.

While conducting the research, I discovered the following. It’s good news in the sense that organizations across America are now seeking a decision from the highest court in the nation involving police and the mentally ill. It’s San Francisco vs. Sheehan, case number 13-1412.


Teresa Sheehan at Christmas dinner in 2014. (Courtesy of Frances Sheehan)

Theresa Sheehan lived in a group home in the Mission district and suffers from schizophrenia. In 2008, Theresa’s social worker contacted the police to carry out an involuntary psychiatric commitment. He alleged that Theresa threatened him with a knife.

Two cops arrived and entered Sheehan’s room. She threatened them as well. The two cops left and called for backup. However, before backup arrived, the officers broke down Theresa’s door, pepper sprayed her, and fired their guns 5 to 6 times. Theresa was shot but survived, needing two hip replacements as a result of being shot. Read the rest of this entry

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