WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus Police have released the names of the officer and the man who was killed during a police-involved shooting at St. Ann’s Hospital in the Columbus suburb of Westerville on Thursday.
Police said Officer Nathan Komisarek shot Christopher L. Wade, 39, after Wade pulled out a realistic-looking BB gun. According to investigators, Wade did not comply to numerous orders by police to get down on the ground.
Komisarek is a 14-year veteran with the Columbus Division of Police.
One of Wade’s neighbors called 911, trying to get him help.
“My neighbor he…I think he’s bipolar, I’m not sure,” said the 911 caller “There’s a nurse that comes and gives him medicine twice a day and I don’t know if he told her not to come or maybe he didn’t take it, but he’s having side effects from not having it, and he’s falling, and he’s so confused.”
The 911 operator asked, “Is he dangerous?” and the caller replied, “Yes.”
Then the operator asked, “Does he have any weapons you know of?” and the caller said, “Yes, but – my neighbor is trying to get ahold of them and can’t.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Ohio executive director Terry Russell said the mental health system is not sufficient enough to meet the needs of those suffering from a biological brain disorder.
“Unfortunately, sometimes the criminal justice system and the police officers are called in to be the quasi-mental health system and that’s just a tragedy right now in our country,” Russell said.
He said incidents like this stigmatize people with mental illness in a negative light.
“These individuals are not any more violent than anybody else.”
He said if you know someone suffering from a mental illness that needs help, always ask for a crisis intervention trained or CIT officer.
“It’s not going to solve the problem we had yesterday,” Russell said. “My heart goes out to the police officer who was put into this situation. We’d like the mental health system to deal with that individual before it gets to this level.”
Columbus Division of Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin said right now, they’re not sure of their legal right to search patients getting into a medic transport. Currently, it’s not something EMS personnel do. Now, he said they will discuss what happened on Thursday and possibly consider changing their current procedures.
If you know someone suffering from a mental illness who needs help, you can also call NAMI toll-free: (800) 686-2646.