Widow of teacher shot by police seeks reform

Kyle Hart of Redwood City taught at Greene Middle School (formerly Jordan Middle School) in Palo Alto. Facebook photo.

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

The widow of a Palo Alto teacher is pushing for reform after her husband was shot and killed by Redwood City police during a mental health crisis.

Kyle Hart, who was a teacher at Greene Middle School in Palo Alto, was killed Dec. 10 after he approached police with a knife when officers were responding to a report that he was trying to commit suicide at his home in Redwood City.

His widow, Kristin Hart, wants police to receive training to deal with people who are suffering from a mental health crisis, according to a post on the family’s GoFundMe page.

She is asking people to join her at the next Redwood City Council meeting on Monday (May 20) at 7 p.m.

Hart is asking council to:

• Send all officers to a 40-hour crisis intervention training class, and change department policies to reflect that training. “De-escalation and scene management expectations need to be more clearly defined and consistently followed,” Hart wrote.

• Put bean bag guns in every patrol car, so they have another alternative to using their firearms.

• Equip all officers with body-worn cameras. In an email to Hart, City Manager Melissa Stevenson Diaz responded to some of Hart’s proposed changes.

The city is requiring all officers and supervisors who go out in the field to take a 40-hour crisis intervention training, Stevenson Diaz said.

The city has a section in its police handbook on mental illness commitments. However, that mostly deals with when officers take someone with a psychiatric condition to a hospital for a 72-hour examination.

There is some discussion in the manual in how to deal with suicidal people in relation to when a “crisis response unit” ought to be deployed.

The city owns 13 bean bag guns, and has three in patrol cars during a shift, according to Stevenson Diaz. Up to eight may be with officers at one time.

However, it was not clear yesterday how many patrol cars are deployed during each shift.

Body-worn cameras coming

Stevenson Diaz said in her letter to Hart that there are plans for officers to have body-worn cameras by the end of the year.

Redwood City and the sheriff’s department are the only two police agencies in the area that don’t have body cameras.

Officers attempted to use a Taser, but only one prong hit Hart and did not shock him, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe’s report on the incident. Only 43 seconds elapsed between the time when officers arrived and when Hart was shot, according to Wagstaffe.

 

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3 Comments

  1. This guy was trying to get the cops to kill him. Sad cops were put in that position, but when you pull a gun or knife on a cop, there’s no mystery about what will happen to you.

    • Um, actually, that’s the whole point of this widow, and others around the country trying to bring more understanding about mental illness to others, including law enforcement (and, apparently, you). In the case of mental illness, shooting should not happen so quickly without using deescalation techniques first. Multiple police officers against someone with a knife and he gets shot dead in 43 seconds??? Ridiculous.

  2. Kyle would still be here, if those officers didn’t show up that morning or knew what to do in that situation. The results of those officers clearly demonstrate that they were not prepared to help the situation. Whatever training or policy (if any) they had failed. Officer Gomez and Velez only caused harm. They killed a great man, father, and friend. They caused pain to a large community and worse left two children a lifetime without a father. I expect a lot more from Redwood City’s police and if they can’t help – don’t come.

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