The police officer who shot a man in McLean Thursday night (July 7), ultimately killing him, was a 10-year veteran who had received crisis intervention training, the Fairfax County Police Department said in an update on Friday (July 8).
Identified as 26-year-old Jasper Aaron Lynch, the man was holding a bottle and an object — possibly “a large decorative wooden tribal mask” — when three police officers encountered him inside a house in the 6900 block of Arbor Lane, police say.
As previously reported, police first went to the house after getting a call about a man in crisis around 7:11 p.m. on Thursday. The call came from a family friend who said Lynch “was throwing objects inside the home and pacing,” according to the FCPD.
The group that responded was a designated co-responder unit with an officer assigned to the department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) and a clinician from the Sharon Bulova Center for Community Health, which provides mental health services and was previously known as the Merrifield Center.
According to the FCPD, Lynch left the house before officers arrived at 7:26 p.m, and when they were unable to locate him, the unit went to the McLean District Station to speak with his family by phone.
When police received a second call from a family friend at 8:34 p.m., three officers went to the house, spoke to a family member, and found Lynch in the foyer holding the bottle and mask, police say.
“The officers attempted to de-escalate the situation with verbal commands inside the foyer of the home,” the FCPD said. “Lynch threw the mask at an officer and began to swing the bottle in striking motion. Two officers attempted to utilize their Electronic Control Weapons. Lynch ran toward officers while swinging the bottle. One officer discharged his firearm, striking Lynch four times.”
The department says officers “immediately rendered aid” to Lynch until personnel from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department arrived, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to police, the officer who fired his gun has been with the FCPD for 10 years and was assigned to the McLean District Station. All three officers who responded to the second call were CIT-trained.
Crisis intervention training is designed to teach law enforcement how to safely deescalate situations with people experiencing mental health challenges, though some have questioned the program’s effectiveness.
According to a database maintained by The Washington Post, about 21% of the people fatally shot by police in the U.S. since 2015 reportedly had a mental illness. A 2015 study by the nonprofit Treatment Advocacy Center found that people with a severe, untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely than other individuals to be killed in police encounters.
The FCPD told FFXnow in October 2021 that just 46% of its approximately 1,500 officers had been CIT-trained, but Chief Kevin Davis said at a media briefing after the McLean shooting that the department had trained “each and every patrol squad” on dealing with mental health crisis scenarios “within the last year.”
All officers involved in the shooting have been placed on “restrictive duty” while criminal and administrative investigations into the incident continue, along with a review by the county’s Office of the Independent Police Auditor.
The FCPD says the name of the officer who fired their gun will be released within 10 days “unless there is a credible threat to the safety of the officer involved or if additional time is required to thoroughly complete the risk assessment process.”
The department also requires any video and audio recordings of a use-of-force incident to be released publicly within 30 days “or when it no longer jeopardizes the integrity of the investigation.”
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