Lawmakers to debate if Coloradans in a mental health crisis should be charged with a felony if they hit police
December 17, 2019
By: Joe St. George
Originally appeared in Fox31
DENVER — Colorado lawmakers will debate whether to defelonize a longstanding law that allows a person to be charged with a felony if they strike a police officer, correctional officer, EMT, firefighter, nurse or doctor during a mental health crisis.
Mental Health Colorado is pushing for a change in the statute believing someone shouldn’t be put in jail for simply seeking health.
“Those enhanced charges have poor outcomes,” Vincent Atchity with Mental Health Colorado said.
“People can be seeking health care and end up felons when they’ve never had any criminal background,” Atchity added.
Mary Thomas is one Coloradan who experienced this law.
Thomas was nineteen and severely depressed when police were called for a welfare check.
“I walked up to one officer and put my hand right there on their chest and the next thing I know I was on my back on the bed and the three officers were on top of me,” Thomas said.
Thomas was charged with felony three assault on an officer. She was able to later in life get her record sealed but only after a lengthy court battle.
“It was really traumatic and I was terrified of the police,” Thomas said. “This happens to people all the time.”
Colorado’s Chiefs of Police are expected to push back against this law sending Fox 31 this statement:
“Any proposed legislation that would diminish the seriousness and consequences for assaulting law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and our partners in the health care industry and thus reducing public safety; needs to be fully vetted. The CACP will review the Bill and take an official position on it in the upcoming weeks.”