PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A family is in mourning and calling for change after their loved one was shot and killed by McMinnville police.
The stark set of facts around Tuesday’s shooting show Laurence Dickson called 911, claiming he was suicidal. The family says he came out of an apartment with a pellet gun in his hand and was hit by gunfire.
Family members say they want to see more mental health training for situations like this one.
Police have remained tight-lipped since the shooting, and while KOIN 6 is still working to learn what happened, Dickson’s family tells KOIN 6 News he was dealing with mental illness and needed help, and now they’re left devastated.
“He was the only dad I ever really knew,” said Dickson’s stepdaughter, Michelle Banks. “He was there for everything, teach you how to ride a bike, teach you how to tie your shoes.”
Oregon State Police — now leading the investigation — says Dickson was left an apartment before confronting arriving McMinnville Police officers, not going into further detail about what led officers to open fire.
“Larry called the police department saying that he was suicidal and when they got there, he came out with a pellet gun and they shot him, and that’s the only information that we know,” said Dickson’s stepdaughter, Richalene Fry. “The police department is not releasing any information to us.”
His family tells KOIN 6 that Dickson had struggled with mental illness for a long time, especially in recent years after his wife died. Left with more questions than answers, they say it’s frustrating not to know why he didn’t receive help from first responders if he was in a mental health crisis, and why officers shot to kill, rather than using non-lethal forms like tasers or rubber bullets.
“What happened isn’t fair you know? It’s not fair that when someone struggles through mental illness, they can’t get the help that they’re reaching out for,” said Banks. “Calling 911 saying, ‘I’m suicidal, I need help,’ why is it they shot and killed him and they can’t tell me why. Why can’t they tell me what happened?”
Family members, including Dickson’s stepson Samuel Fry and granddaughter Crystal Dawson, tell us Dickson, who went by “Larry”, was a retired security guard and Marine, but would always light up when talking about his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
While so much is still unknown about what happened, they tell KOIN 6 they hope more training can be done for officers to handle these kinds of crises without things turning deadly.
KOIN 6 reached out to Oregon State Police and Yamhill County for more information about what happened to Dickson Tuesday night, but has not heard back. Dickson’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses.