New commitment law in works following SPD shooting death of mentally ill Capitol Hill man

Friends gathered for consolation after Joel Reuter was shot and died in a long, armed standoff with police last July (Image: CHS)

Friends gathered for consolation after Joel Reuter was shot and died in a long, armed standoff with police last July (Image: CHS)

Last week, CHS reported on the inquest into SPD’s fatal shooting of a mentally ill Capitol Hill man as a jury determined police faced a threat adequate to require deadly force in the standoff with the armed man.

Joel Reuter’s parents attended part of the hearing, but declined to take part in it. Just six months after Reuter’s death, the family is working to create something positive from their tragic loss. Last week, the Reuters began work in Olympia to lobby the legislature to change mental health laws in the state. Following the inquest hearing, Nancy Reuter said she didn’t blame the police for her son’s death, but shortcomings in the mental health system.

The Seattle Times has more on the couple’s move from Texas to Olympia to work on behalf of their son’s memory and push for change in how Washington cares for its mentally ill:

“If he had a loaded gun in his hand with his finger on the trigger, we could get him some help,” Reuter says he was told.

“And that’s exactly what Joel had on the morning of July 5,” the father continues. “And the help they gave was to shoot and kill him.”

The Reuters are working to support a new bill in Olympia that would move the state’s laws closer to a solution that the couple says works in Arizona. Currently, a Washington resident must be “gravely disabled” or in imminent danger of harming self or others to commit them to a mental health facility. The Seattle Times reports a new bill would allow family to petition to have someone committed and would require ongoing monitoring after the commitments end.

The bill is slated to be introduced this week in Olympia.

2 thoughts on “New commitment law in works following SPD shooting death of mentally ill Capitol Hill man

  1. I really appreciate the Reuter’s efforts in Olympia to get our commitment laws changed…..although Mr. Reuter has expressed pessimism that this will happen. It sure would be nice if the ACLU and similar groups would compromise a little and stop their hard-line opposition to the needed changes. At the very least, families should be allowed to petition to have their loved-one commited (as is allowed in some other states), and follow-up care and monitoring must be made mandatory.

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