Woman Who Crashed Through Sky Harbor Gate Sentenced
You may recall hearing the story of a 24-year-old woman crashing her car into a Sky Harbor International Airport security gate. Back in November of 2012, when Koko Nicole Anderson crashed through the gate with her infant son, the public and media instantly slammed her, labeling her a terrorist and insane. However, with counsel from Bernardo Garcia Law, her charges were minimized due to a case of mental illness, where a woman did not have the proper resources to care for her Bipolar Disorder.
Public Opinion Didn’t Rule This Case
If it were up the court of public opinion, Koko would be in jail for a long time, maybe the rest of her life. Thankfully, the court of public opinion does not constitute “the right to due process,” and the case was heard in court. After three long years of defense, Bernardo Garcia Law was able to reach a plea agreement for Koko. Sentenced with 5 years probation, along with parenting classes, mental health treatment and monitoring, Koko was able to avoid jail. As part of her plea agreement, she also must pay restitution for the incident. Sky Harbor officials are quoting the incident as costing $13,500 in damage.
If you or someone you know have been involved in an incident and mental health is a factor, give us a call today. Having an attorney on your side that has a wealth of experience defending those with mental health issues can greatly increase your chances of success.
Photo by David
Phoenix Police Department Starts “Mental Health Squad”
Law enforcement is a tough job, in many aspects, but one particular aspect—interacting with mentally ill civilians (who may be acting extremely erratically)—should be getting a little easier. A group has been started to assist officers interacting with the mentally ill, the “Mental Health Squad.”
The squad consists of one sergeant and six officers, who will work flexible and strategic schedules that align with the days/time of day when Phoenix PD see the most mental health incidents. NAMI Arizona shows that the Phoenix Police Department handles about 4,000 mental health incidents per year.
Phoenix Police Commander Matt Giordano explains, “It is our job to maintain calmness, and that will translate to the person in crisis and help them remain calm.” The Phoenix Mental Health Squad was influenced by similar programs in Los Angeles, San Diego and Houston.
This organization comes in some part as a result of highly publicized police violence in 2015, including the killing of mental patient, Erik Tellez. When authorities tried to communicate with Tellez, a known mental patient, he started shooting. One officer was shot in the shoulder, and Tellez was killed. Could this incident have been handled in a different way? Definitely. Perhaps if the Mental Health Squad was on the scene, they could have calmed down Mr. Tellez and gotten him the psychiatric help that was clearly needed.