DRO, NAMI Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness Denounce Hamilton County Complaint Against Widow
March 11, 2015 / guardianship
In response to a civil rights lawsuit filed against Hamilton County in the wrongful death of Gary Roell, Sr., Hamilton has now filed a complaint against Mr. Roell’s widow, who was his legal guardian. Disability Rights Ohio and NAMI Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness denounce Hamilton County’s attempt to deflect blame from itself for Mr. Roell’s death and onto his widow. Disability Rights Ohio and NAMI Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness call on Hamilton County to use this lawsuit as an opportunity to identify ways that it can improve its responses to situations involving individuals with mental illness.
Mr. Roell died in August 2013 after Hamilton County deputies used a Taser during an encounter with Mr. Roell, an individual with mental illness who was unarmed. Mr. Roell’s family filed a civil rights lawsuit against Hamilton County in August 2014. The defendants recently responded by filing a complaint against Mr. Roell’s widow, alleging that Mr. Roell’s widow shares the blame for Mr. Roell’s death because she failed to “protect and control” him by not involuntarily hospitalizing him when his condition first began to decline.
“Hamilton County should focus on making changes to prevent tragedies like Mr. Roell’s death from occurring again,” says Michael Kirkman, Executive Director of Disability Rights Ohio. “Individuals with mental illness have a right to be involved in decisions about their treatment; they do not need to be hospitalized at the first sign of changes in their condition. Treatment decisions should be made based on an individual’s needs, not out of a fear of legal liability.”
“Family members make every effort to meet the needs of their loved ones with mental illness while still respecting their rights to be involved in decisions about their own treatment and lives,” says Gloria Walker, Executive Director of NAMI Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness. “Hamilton County’s legal arguments show that it doesn’t understand the difficulties that families experience.”
Disability Rights Ohio is the private, nonprofit organization designated under federal law as Ohio’s system to protect and advocate the rights of people with disabilities and as the Client Assistance Program under the Rehabilitation Act. The mission of Disability Rights Ohio is to advocate for the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities in Ohio.
NAMI Urban Greater Cincinnati Network on Mental Illness is the urban community’s voice on mental illness. Our objective is to include, inform, support, educate and advocate for improved quality of life and an improved mental health system of care.