Independence family seeks answers after fatal officer-involved s - KCTV5

Independence family seeks answers after fatal officer-involved shooting

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The family of a man shot and killed by an Independence police officer is raising questions about how the incident was handled. (KCTV5) The family of a man shot and killed by an Independence police officer is raising questions about how the incident was handled. (KCTV5)
INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -

The family of a man shot and killed by an Independence police officer is raising questions about how the incident was handled. 

Family members of Andy Cruz gathered in Independence, making arrangements for his memorial - and mourning his loss

They're also questioning their decision to call police when he threatened to harm himself. 

Just before 7 p.m. on Saturday, police went to Independence Ridge Apartments on a call that said there was an armed, suicidal man there. 

When officers arrived, they found the man outside one of the apartments and he was armed with a shotgun. Witnesses said he was drunk, belligerent. Cell phone video shows a bottle of gin sitting on his porch.

Sophia Zerban, Cruz's daughter, said she believes her father should still be alive. 

"If the cops weren't there, he probably would still be alive," she said. 

Cruz's mother called police, hoping they might clam him down. But police say he pointed a shotgun at them and the decision was deadly. 

His family says he only wanted to hurt himself, not others. 

"He would not have hurt any of us," said Staci Koffman, Cruz's sister. "His grandkids were there. It was all about the hurt that he had for him." 

The emotions are still raw, but they told their story to KCTV5 to share a message they believe: Police need more training in mental illness. 

Expects tell KCTV5 the trend among law enforcement is more and more training. 

“The point is, we have to, as officers, look at the imminent danger at that moment," said retired FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Tabman. "And whether someone is mentally unhealthy or mentally healthy isn't really an issue at the moment if we see there's a threat.”

Meanwhile, Cruz's family is trying to remember the good. 

“He was a really good friend and a good dad," Sophia Zerban said. "I just don't think he was in his right mind. And there wasn't anyone there to help him.”

KCTV5 reached out to Independence police. They were not able to speak on camera, but said all of their officers receive some mental health training. 

A number of officers elect to take specialized crisis intervention training as well.

They say there are hundreds of officers with this specialized training in the Kansas City metro area. 

Copyright 2017 KCTV (Meredith Corp.). All rights reserved.

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