The family of Irvin Charley, who was shot to death during a deadly confrontation with Richland County deputies, showed a photograph of Charley with Richland County officers. The sheriff’s department was familiar with Charley, who suffered from a mental illness, and had made previous visits to the family’s home. Photos by Ashley Miller.
Attorneys for a Richland County man killed in an officer-involved shooting called Thursday for legislation that would implement a new way for families to call a crisis center during mental health emergencies.
They believe the alternative number to 911, which four states have already adopted, could have spared the life of Irvin Charley, 34, who was killed March 19 by a Richland County deputy who was called to the home when Charley’s sister called 911 about a domestic dispute.
In October 2020, President Trump passed a bipartisan bill that created the 988 number specifically for mental health crises. Congress mandated a deadline of July 16, 2022 for 988 to be available nationwide.
The team of attorneys and religious leaders, who held a news conference the day after Charley’s funeral, stated that they were talking to state representatives about introducing legislation.
Connie Craig, Charley’s mother, confirmed that Charley was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 12. She also confirmed that Charley had been receiving medical treatment, but did not elaborate further.
Tammy Mackins-Hill, a licensed counselor in Columbia, stated she believed Charley was in psychosis at the time of the incident.
“They need to be trained through trauma-informed care, and they need to begin using harm reduction techniques to calm down individuals with a mental health crisis,” Mackins-Hill said.
Another licensed medical professional, Andrea Manigault, who lost her son to gun violence, said she believed that deputies did not follow correct procedure.
“Why wasn’t the de-escalation process put in place? That’s my question,” Manigault, from North Charleston, said.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is conducting an internal investigation of the officer-involved shooting as Charley’s family called for deputy Zachary Hentz to be charged. The department has not spoken on the incident since a March 20 news conference.
The sheriff’s department was familiar with Charley and had responded to multiple calls to the family home.
When deputies arrived on the scene, Charley was wielding a 15-inch stake and did not listen to deputy commands to drop the weapon.
Tammy Mackins-Hill, a licensed counselor in Columbia, said at a Thursday news conference she thought Charley may have been in a state of psychosis when he charged police with a 15-inch stake.
At Thursday’s news conference, Andrea Manigault, a licensed medical professional, said she believed officers did not follow correct protocol in dealing with a troubled individual. Manigault lost her son to gun violence in 2021 and said she sympathizes with the family.
Connie Craig confirmed that Charley was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 12 and received medical treatment.
ABOUT THE JOURNALISTS
Caroline Williamson is an aspiring business journalist and native of Columbia, South Carolina. She was a former editor for the Garnet and Black Magazine and acquisitions intern for UofSC Press where she developed a passion for editing. Williamson enjoys writing narrative pieces that share unique perspectives and bring justice to those without a voice. She hopes to bring those skills and passion to a regional newspaper or magazine after graduation in May.
Ashley Miller is an aspiring investigative reporter from Lancaster, South Carolina. Miller worked for Fusion Magazine as a photojournalist in Kent, Ohio, during her freshman year and continues to assist the publication remotely. Miller wants to eventually write for a daily publication. Check out her portfolio at https://ashleymiller0626.journoportfolio.com to see clips and learn more.