Family: Man shot and killed by police was mentally ill

David Latham (Photo provided by family friend Michael Muhammad)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Norfolk family said 35-year-old David Latham was unnecessarily shot and killed by police on Friday night.

Around 11 p.m., emergency dispatchers received a 911 call about a domestic situation in the 400 block of West 30th Street, according to Officer Daniel Hudson with the Norfolk Police Department. The caller mentioned a person with a knife.

WAVY/Ferlon Webster
WAVY/Ferlon Webster

When police arrived at the scene, an officer encountered Latham, who allegedly threatened the officer with a knife. The officer discharged his firearm and hit Latham, Hudson said.

Latham was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. No officers were harmed during the incident.

“He did not deserve this,” said Latham’s aunt, Geraldine Latham.

Latham’s aunts told the victim had suffered from mental illness since he was 15 years old. Family members said he was most likely schizophrenic and he was aware of when his problems were coming on. His aunt, Barbara Latham White, said Latham hadn’t taken his medicine for a few days. She wasn’t sure whether he was out of medication or not.

“He would get kind of aggressive, like and talking a lot, anxious,” said Geraldine. “They would take him to the hospital.”

On Friday night, family friend Michael Muhammad said Latham was arguing with his brother at the house. His mother called 911, and according to family members and Muhammad, she reported Latham was ill and needed help. Family members said one of the children in the house also called 911 and asked police dispatchers to “hurry up.”

Family members said Latham answered the door when police arrived. They said Latham wouldn’t drop the knife, however, he did not threaten the officer. Latham was shot at least three times while in the doorway, according to the family. They also said he was shot once when he was on the ground.

“I understand that young people today are more dangerous than anything in the world, that I understand,” said Barbara. “But, there are ways to deal with them. And especially if you get a call about a person with a mental illness. What are the Tasers for?”

Latham’s aunts said the victim took himself to the hospital earlier in the week. They said he knew his symptoms were coming on and he needed help. The family said he was sent home from the hospital because he wasn’t considered a threat.

Geraldine Latham and Barbara Latham White also question why police didn’t handle the situation differently, considering they had been called to the house before to help with David Latham.

Officer Daniel Hudson said investigators are looking into every side of this story. He said there will be more released in the next few days.

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