Friday, December 09, 2005

Sister: My brother also killed by SWAT team

Alan Singletary’s family knows firsthand the pain that Mr. Alpizar’s family is going through. Alan was killed by SWAT team members after killing a sheriff’s deputy.

Alice Petree, Alan’s sister, joined with the deputy’s widow and the Florida Sheriffs Association to lead the charge to reform Florida’s treatment law. Their work resulted in a new assisted outpatient treatment law for Floridians. If you are in Florida and your family member needs help, this law may provide an answer.

Alice wrote an impassioned letter to the Orlando Sentinel, which read, in part:

Mr. Alpizar’s death is a tragic loss not only to his family and community, but to the members of law enforcement who must make life or death decisions every day in order to protect both people who may have a serious and persistent mental illness not taking the medication that helps them, and people who do not have a mental illness going about their daily lives and activities.

On July 8, 1998 my brother Alan Singletary was also killed by members of law enforcement after a 13 hour stand off. My brother killed one deputy and wounded two others before his life was ended by the SWAT team. My brother was not taking his prescribed medication or following the treatment plan that assisted him in keeping the symptoms of paranoia, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder in balance …

How many more devastating incidents of this magnitude will it take for us to understand that untreated severe mental illnesses are the … leading cause of disability and financial burden not only in the United States but worldwide? This is more than the disease burden caused by all cancers.

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