DALLAS (AP) — A man who Dallas police fatally shot after he pointed what turned out to be a replica handgun toward officers was recently discharged from a treatment center for mental illness, his family said.
Officers shot Edgar Luis Tirado on Monday as he brandished the replica firearm, which police said he’d used in a series of robberies. The Dallas police chief said officers thought the gun was real, and the department released helicopter and body camera video that appeared to show Tirado pointing it at them.
Tirado’s parents said the 28-year-old had a bipolar disorder and that they’d been trying, unsuccessfully, to have him committed to a long-term mental healthcare facility. They said he was failed by the mental health treatment system and placed his death in a long line of fatal encounters between police and people with mental illness.
“Our country has failed us, and it’s not just my son,” Edgar Tirado Sr. told The Associated Press Friday. “This happens many, many, many times.”
Late Monday afternoon, police said they received a call about a man with a gun trying to steal a woman’s car. Police confronted the man, who pulled a gun but ran off without the officers firing, said Dallas police Chief Eddie Garcia.
A little while later, police said they got a call about a man robbing a CVS. When officers responded, he again ran, crossing several lanes of a busy highway. Police said the man pulled out a replica revolver and was shot by the officers. No one else was injured or killed.
Police later identified the man as Tirado and released photos of the replica gun. At a Tuesday news conference, García highlighted detailing on the gun’s barrel that he said led the officers and the people robbed to believe it was real.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know this individual’s state of mind,” García said.
Tirado’s a parents said he spent much of the last year in and out of mental health treatment centers. Susana Tirado said her son appeared before a Dallas County judge last week to request treatment but that they’d been struggling to have him committed because he was homeless and had no fixed address.
“This is our kid who was reaching out for help,” Tirado said. She also expressed frustration over police’s portrayal of her son, saying he was “not a criminal” and “he stole like half a gallon of milk.”
Tirado was a state-ranked trumpet player at his Dallas-area high school and graduated near the top of his class, according to his family. He joined the U.S. Airforce after school and completed basic training but was later discharged for reasons his parents said were never explained to them. They said he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder not long after that, at the age of 20, and had struggled in the years since.
“We need to have police, but they have to be better trained,” said Tirado Sr. “There have to be better ways of doing things.”