Isn’t this latest occurrence of APD killings all about our ongoing debate regarding police brutality? Not that the death of Mary Hawkes was, of a certainty, unjustly perpetrated by law-enforcement personnel, but the question that I have is why this young woman, with a substantial criminal history, had not been taken off the streets long ago. My reason? Obviously mental illness and the probability of her being rehabilitated. Where was the magistrate when this child was running amok? Where was CYFD? In the case of my son Arnold, who suffered a nervous breakdown in 2008 and had some mental deficits since childhood — for which I, as his mother, neglected to seek professional help because of my inability to discern the seriousness of his condition and the fact that I was too involved in my own social life, thereby subjecting my sons to a dysfunctional home environment — he now sits in a delusional world haunted by ADD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression and traumatic brain injury.

The latter, of course, arose from a severe beating which occurred in October 2011 on the University of New Mexico campus, just three weeks following a similar attack at that same venue. He was hospitalized for two and a half months; his perpetrators left him in a fetal position outside of Popejoy Hall, where he had taken up residency for two or more years, at times being forcibly evicted but defiantly returning even after the near-death experience which resulted because “he went back into the building.” Since 2008, when Arnold first suffered a mental meltdown in Florida, and was publicly portrayed as a criminal trespasser on the University of New Mexico campus from 2010 to late 2012, I have sought assistance from various law enforcement and other agencies: The Polk County Florida Sheriff‘s Office, Adult Protective Services in Lakeland, Florida, the University of New Mexico Police Department, the Albuquerque Police Department, the New Mexico State Second Judicial District Attorney’s office, the APD Crisis Intervention Team, the University of New Mexico Department of Psychiatry and the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center.

None of my efforts were successful because I was told “he is an adult” and neither I nor any agency can intervene, except in the case of a court-mandated committal order. Unfortunately, the district attorney’s office failed to obtain one, as requested by the University of New Mexico police. I pray sincerely that New Mexico will enact laws to protect the mentally ill and other vulnerable victims of police brutality and domestic abuse. We need to stop pointing fingers, instead we need to join forces — families, law enforcement personnel, government officials and the community at large — to ensure that our mentally ill are cared for appropriately. Reverend Mary E. Woods

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