Intake: 4/4/2018. Brooklyn, NY
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)
Bipolar I Disorder:
911 Caller: There is a guy walking around. He looks like he is crazy but he’s pointing something at people that looks like a gun and he’s like popping it like he’s pulling the trigger. He’s not pulling a trigger but he’s making a motion as if he is and there is something sticking out of his jacket.
Dispatcher: Ok, is anybody injured?
911 Caller: Nobody is injured.
Dispatcher: Ok, give me one second. Ok, help is on the way, I just have a few more questions, ok?
911 Caller: Uh-huh.
Dispatcher: You said it looks like a gun?
911 Caller: Yes.
|A distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, and increased goal-directed activity or energy lasting ≥1 week|
- Officers arrived at the scene around 4:30 p.m. and saw a man matching the description callers gave. In a news briefing later Wednesday evening, NYPD Chief Terence A. Monahan said the man “took a two-handed shooting stance and pointed an object at the approaching officers.” When asked whether the officers accounted for Vassell’s potential mental illness when they encountered him, Monahan responded that “this was not an [Emotionally Disturbed Person] call.”
|(any duration if hospitalized), present most of the day, nearly every day|
- The victim’s father, Eric Vassell, told the New York Times on Wednesday that his son had bipolar disorder and had been “sick for a long time.” Neighbors and local police officers also said they knew Vassell to be mentally ill and to drink heavily. Vassell had been taken to the hospital several times in recent years for mental health treatment.
|Characterized by the occurrence of 1 or more manic or mixed episodes (the manic episode may have been preceded by and may be followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes, but these are not required for diagnosis)|
911 Caller: Hi I’m walking on Utica Avenue in the direction to…yeah walking away from Eastern Parkway towards Empire Boulevard. There’s a guy in a brown jacket walking around pointing. I don’t know what he’s pointing at people’s faces. I don’t know what if it’s a gun.¹ It’s silver.
Dispatcher: You said Utica Avenue and Eastern Parkway?
911 Caller: I’m walking in the direction towards Empire Boulevard.
Dispatcher: So, Empire Boulevard?
911 Caller: Right. I’m walking on Utica in direction towards Empire Boulevard. I’m between Carroll and (Unintelligible Dispatcher/Caller audio overlapping).
911 Caller: I’m sorry. (Unintelligible Dispatcher/Caller overlapping).
911 Caller: He’s an African American guy. He has on a brown jacket.
Dispatcher: Brown jacket?911 Caller: Right. He’s pointing a thing in people’s faces. He’s wearing blue jeans and black and white sneakers and a black hat.
¹ Officers later determined that the object Vassell had pointed at them was a pipe with some sort of knob on the end of it.
|During the mood disturbance and increased energy or activity, ≥3 (or 4 if irritable mood only) of the following:|
|A. Inflated self-esteem or |
|Four officers, three in plainclothes and one in uniform,|
|B. Decreased need for sleep||fired 10 rounds, striking the man,|
|C. Pressured speech||who was later identified as Saheed Vassell.|
|D. Racing thoughts or flight of ideas||The officers then called an ambulance,|
|E. Distractibility||NYPD Chief Terence A. Monahan said,|
|F. Increased activity||and Vassell was taken to Kings County Hospital,|
|G. Excess pleasurable or risky|
|where he was pronounced dead.|
Blumberg, A. (2018, April 6). NYPD Releases 911 Transcripts, Footage Of Saheed Vassell’s Final Moments. HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nypd-911-footage-saheed-vassell_n_5ac7eb73e4b09d0a1193ce18
Purse, M. (2022). Types of Bipolar Disorder Episodes According to the DSM-5. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/bipolar-disorder-episodes-380392
Janine Blue lives in Illinois and is a PhD candidate studying creative writing. Janine’s prose and hybrid work intertwine feminism, police brutality, queer culture, and critical race theory. As a Black female, her intersectional identity is embedded into her writing regardless of the medium or subject matter. You can find her at janinewrites.com and on Twitter @JeblueWrites.