Fargo police officers won’t be disciplined after blinding man with pepperball gun
His mother says she's not surprised by the investigation outcome
FARGO, N.D. — A 13-page internal investigation says Fargo Police officers acted appropriately back in October, when they shot 27-year-old Tyler Patel with a pepperball gun and blinded him in one eye.
“There’s definitely some pieces here that are not coming together in a way that they should, let’s put it that way. It’s like adding two plus two and getting five,” says Tyler’s mother Stephanie Patel.
Officers were responding to a medical assistance call regarding Tyler at the Alternative Crisis Center.
They say when they arrived, Tyler claimed to have a gun and was not responding to commands, which is why they fired a pepper ball gun, blinding him in his right eye.
The department’s investigation says, “The use of the pepperball gun was reasonable, necessary and within policy.”
“They aren’t honest. And it’s like saying if we don’t admit our mistakes, how do we change them? If we can’t admit we made a mistake — Tyler will admit he made mistakes. Are the police willing to admit that they made mistakes?” says Stephanie.
Tyler was arrested and charged for terrorizing and preventing arrest.
Stephanie says her son wasn’t a threat to anyone.
She says the police officers weren’t equipped to deal with someone undergoing a mental health emergency.
“Being bipolar is not being criminal. He could end up in jail because he was suicidal. Over and over and over again, these things happen because as a society, we don’t understand these things.”
Stephanie says discipline isn’t the answer.
Instead, she stresses conversation is the real solution.
“Punishment doesn’t change people’s attitudes. It doesn’t. It’s a time for dialogue, it’s a time for honesty. It’s a time for looking at how we treat each other and the way that we — the way that people respond to people with mental health issues.”
Stephanie says she and Fargo Police will be working together after the holidays to open more dialogue from both sides on how to move forward regarding the relationship between police and those suffering with their mental health.