Greenville, SC — Sean Theodore Kaiser, 40, had no criminal record and had never been in trouble with law enforcement before a disturbing interaction over an alleged shoplifting charge unfolded last month. According to Kaiser's attorney, the 40-year-old was suffering from some sort of a mental health crisis and instead of getting the help he needed, a trigger happy cop showed up and shot his innocent mother.
According to police, Kaiser was suspected of shoplifting so a deputy with the Greenville County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to his mother's residence. Kaiser was uncooperative when the deputy arrived but he was unarmed and non-violent — merely refusing to go into custody.
Instead of waiting for backup to arrive after Kaiser refused to go with her, the deputy, identified in court documents as deputy Ashley Cure, dangerously escalated the situation.
As the video shows, Kaiser told the deputy "don't touch me" and "I'm stronger than you."
After several minutes of struggling to get Kaiser in handcuffs, the apparently mentally ill man grabbed the deputy's arm and put his body on top of her. The move did not hurt the deputy and she broke free almost instantly.
As she backed up, she pulled out her gun and pointed it at Kaiser and his mother.
Attempting to calm the situation down, Kaiser's mother, identified by his attorney as Dianne Maros, tried to ease the deputy's escalation. She urged the deputy to simply wait for her backup to arrive before attempting to place her son in handcuffs again. Kaiser was clearly not trying to flee and backup was on the way. This was the most rational and safe choice the deputy had but she chose escalation instead.
"Back away," she shouted at the mother repeatedly. "Do not tell me what to do."
Kaiser and his mother both appeared to be calm and the situation seemed to be under control for the time being — but not for long. Instead of waiting for backup, who would show up in less than one minute, the deputy began to yell and provoke Kaiser and charged at them. This prompted the mentally ill man to stand up.
"You wanna shoot me?" he said.
Kaiser then stood up and came at the deputy which caused her to fire off a round. The bullet did not his Kaiser, instead it went into his innocent mother who was standing behind him. Deputy Cure then fired another shot which luckily didn't hit anyone.
Kaiser proceeded to grab the deputy only after she shot his mother.
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"Did you (expletive) hurt my mother? You don't hurt my mother," the mentally ill man yelled. At this point, we see the mother sit down on the chair before collapsing backward from the gunshot. Another deputy then rushes in, kicks Kaiser down and easily placed him in custody.
Had the deputy waited 45 seconds before approached and antagonizing the mentally ill man, this instance would've been resolved with no violence.
"Where's the gun? Does he have a gun?" the second deputy asked before the deputy involved in the shooting said the only gun involved was hers.
Jake Erwin, a Greenville-based attorney representing Kaiser for his criminal charges pointed out the obvious and unnecessary escalation that led to an innocent mother being shot in her home.
"There’s lots of bad behavior all over this video, but the reason she's hurt, the reason this poor woman is in the hospital, is because of how the officer acted," Erwin said.
According to Erwin, Kaiser's mother is still in the hospital after being shot on October 20. She's had multiple surgeries and is fighting for her life.
"It is clear to me that this officer, whoever she is, is either new or she’s poorly trained or something, because there is no way she should have escalated that situation the way she did," Erwin said. "The moment that he goes back into house, she calls for backup. She knows backup is coming — why is she continuing to escalate the situation?"
We agree. As stated above, when Kaiser and his mother were on the stairs, the deputy should've stayed calm and waited for backup. The incident would've been resolved — without an innocent mother being shot — only seconds later. Sadly, however, a man in a clear mental crisis was pushed to his limits and his mother shot because of an untrained deputy.
"He is fragile," Erwin said. "This is the exact scenario for what this (mental-health) training is for. It’s exactly to prevent what happened here, where a mental-health crisis escalates into an unnecessarily violent incident."
According to Greenville News, Kaiser was later charged with resisting arrest with assault, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, and shoplifting. He remains in the Greenville County jail without bond.
Kaiser is lucky he was not killed as police officers like Cure, who are clearly untrained in handling situations with the mentally ill, all too often end up killing suspects instead of getting them the help they need.