The sister of a Pasco man shot by police Tuesday says her brother struggled with significant, severe and debilitating mental health issues and his family tried repeatedly to get him help.
Brad Jensen, 34, had "a kind heart but a troubled mind," said Kirstin Jensen Bordner in a statement issued Wednesday to KNDU-TV.
Two Pasco police officers shot Jensen several times after he refused to follow their orders to put down a knife.
While Jensen suffered from substance abuse, his deeper issues stemmed from his depression and paranoid schizophrenia, creating extreme paranoia and making it difficult for him to feel safe while receiving care, Bordner said.
Also, the stigma of mental illness and the fear associated with it further hampered efforts to help him, she wrote.
"Despite my family's attempts to receive intervention on his behalf over the last few weeks, there were no mechanisms made available to us that would have allowed him an opportunity to be in a safe place, receive medications and therapeutic intervention that would have reduced the level of paranoia he faced on a daily basis," Bordner said.
His mental health condition caused him "to hear voices commanding him to engage in self-destructive behaviors," she wrote. Court records show he had numerous convictions since 1998.
"Regardless of his diagnoses, the mental health system is inadequately funded and overburdened, making it difficult for people who even attempt to receive treatment," Bordner said.
Jensen is the son of former Pasco police officer and city Councilman Chris Jensen, who has written publicly in the past about the need for more mental health resources in the Tri-Cities.
"People in our community who suffer from mental illness and have no means for treatment need our help," he wrote in a letter to the editor in 2011.
"These people are not criminals yet they often get caught up in the 'criminal system' because of lack of appropriate resources. Those in our community who suffer from mental illness deserve our help."
On Tuesday, police were called to the 4200 block of Desert Place around midnight after a 911 report of a man brandishing a knife. It's not clear if Brad Jensen was threatening someone or whether he was inside a home.
Police Chief Bob Metzger is not releasing any information about what happened or commenting on "related topics" until the investigation is done and reviewed, Capt. Jim Raymond said in a statement.
The Franklin County coroner has said it will be at least six weeks until toxicology test results are available.
The Benton and Franklin Counties Special Investigations Unit, which includes officers from law enforcement agencies in both counties, is investigating whether the shooting was justified.
Raymond's statement on Wednesday also said Pasco officers are "provided and trained in the use and carry of Tasers" despite an initial report Tuesday that they do not have that equipment. He did not return calls Wednesday seeking clarification on the issue.
Jensen's death is the third officer-involved shooting in a month in the Tri-Cities.
"What I believe would have prevented this tragedy is that someone had not only listened to my parents' pleas to get my brother help, but that they had been equipped to do so," said his sister.
"I wish that he had been afforded an opportunity to access mental health treatment that would have saved his life. I wish my brother were still alive so that we could tell him he was loved. I wish I could have helped more. I wish this to never happen to another family."