12-24-2010, 10:30 AM #1
TX - Tavan Cullum, 31, shot to death by police near Boerne, 2 Dec 2010
'The decision to kill my son was wrong'
Sadness, anger grip family of mentally ill man shot by police.
Squeezed inside their modest Northwest Side hotel room two days before Christmas, the Cullum family is finding no joy this holiday season.
It's been three weeks since their mentally ill son and brother, Tavan Cullum, 31, set fire to his family's house and led authorities on a low-speed chase up Interstate 10 before he was shot and killed by police outside Boerne.
Trading presents, preparing a large turkey dinner, and other holiday traditions have been replaced by phone calls to the insurance company and daily trips to Cullum's gravesite, where his mother lies on his grave and sobs.
At least twice in the week before police shot and killed him, officers declined the family's requests to have him committed to a mental health facility.
In a cell phone recording provided to the San Antonio Express-News, officers can be heard telling the family that Tavan Cullum — who was barricaded in his room with a shotgun threatening to kill himself — eventually would follow through with his threats. Instead of detaining him, officers suggested the terrified family should vacate their home.
The Cullum family also wants to know why phone calls to the National Alliance on Mental Illness chapters in San Antonio, Kerrville and Austin were not returned. Phone records show that multiple calls were made to the San Antonio office in October and November, but the Cullums say they were ignored.
“We were so desperate,” Tavan Cullum's mother, Won Sun Cullum, said as she broke down in tears. “I left messages. Where were they?”
“My son is dead,” [Bobby Cullum] said. “Mental illness is everywhere. It's going to happen to someone else if something doesn't change in this city.”
the rest, at
Earlier S.A. Express-News articles:
Chase ends in death
Safety nets failed to halt fatal slide to mental illness
12-24-2010, 10:57 AM #2
What a complete shame.
All the way around.
:-(“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”~Oscar Wilde
12-25-2010, 02:59 AM #3
12-25-2010, 03:20 AM #4Registered User
- Join Date
- Jul 2009
This is tragic and inexcusable. The family did everything right. Everything. Calling NAMI is exactly what I would have recommended as they can often offer advise and advocacy. Why did this fall apart? Why did this man have to die, as his family fought to get him the help he desperately needed?
I truly, truly hope that this case gets wide press with the best investigative reporter in the state.
My prayers are with that grieving family. This should NOT have happened.
12-25-2010, 04:14 AM #5Inactive
- Join Date
- Nov 2008
I am SO SO sorry - this is just heartbreaking. He didn't have to die, there are private resources out there. I especially like the Jani Foundation - who advocates for the mentally challenged regardless of circumstances. I've seen children removed from homes, unprotected, no meds, etc. This group circumvenes and helps parents country-wide.
While it's no consolation know, please know you can reach out to them - share your story. This needs to stop!
Our goal is to give is to publicize the struggles of families with mentally ill children against those suppose to help, publicize poor or insufficient care for mentally ill children, and give parents a voice that puts them in control of their child's welfare. The Jani Foundation does not discriminate. Everyone whose lives are touched by mental illness are welcome.
They are wonderful people with open hearts.
In short, people with mental illness do not need to be shot, they need to be helped.
My prayers are with you this evening.
12-25-2010, 07:23 AM #6Registered User
- Join Date
- Jul 2005
I work in the Mental Health Service industry here in Idaho my son also has a Bi Polar condition(its easily controlled by medication so he's fine now.) but sadly with all the cuts in staffing and street level programs States have intiaited to save Tax Money many cases and people who need help have fallen through the cracks.
No one wants to pay taxes and everyone likes to save money but when a police officer or an everyday citizen finds themselves in a life threatening situation with one of these people I dont know if they still think its a bargain.
Politicians like to make themselves look good going cut,cut ,cut ( especially if those being cut have no advocates or lobbyists like the mentally ill) but those problems dont just disappear.
And even though I work in that field trying to get help for my son and then being able to communicate with the doctors treating him was next to impossible.
Its a very frightening feeling to watch a child go through that and not know where to turn for help or feeling like there is no help.
12-27-2010, 09:59 PM #7
Kline, please know I am sorry for your frustration. I'm glad your son is doing well. I am sorry for anyone who has to endure so much t get help for a loved one.
The Chief of Police in San Antonio wants every single Officer on the force to have training in how to handle cases where citizens are dealing with mental health issues.
It appears the incoming Cadets are getting it. Wtach they cut that back too.
12-27-2010, 10:03 PM #8
McManus is an excellent police chief. It's a pity that this action was not taken, however, years ago, at least for this family's sake.
12-28-2010, 04:47 PM #9
Rest in Peace, Tavan.
Such a senseless death.
Nothing defines the quality of life in a community more clearly than people who regard themselves, or whom the consensus chooses to regard, as mentally unwell."
~ Renata Adler
02-24-2011, 06:13 AM #10Registered User
- Join Date
- Dec 2010
www.TavanCullum.com <- Has the radio show audio.
Susan Schofield's Bipolar Nation Radio welcomes the Cullum family to talk with Michael and me about the death of their eldest son Tavan, a medical school student with dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon… dreams that ended on December 2nd, 2010 when he was shot repeatedly by San Antonio Police. Father & Brother of the victim, Bobby & Ben Cullum will share their desperate attempts to get help for Tavan and the obstacles they faced watching their beloved son and brother disappear into paranoia, violence, and thoughts of suicide. We will learn how the San Antonio police refused to take their pleas seriously, how in desperation Ben requested a detainment only to watch his brother be released from University Hospital in San Antonio NEVER having seen a psychiatrist, and how even calls to NAMI’s San Antonio and Austin offices begging for help were ignored. While Kym Bolado, President of NAMI San Antonio, says the organization would have helped the Cullums had they been aware of the family’s need, the Cullums have numerous phone records that show they very well did make those calls, but they went unanswered. Tavan’s mother cried to reporters, “I left messages. Where were they?” Bipolar Nation Radio also put in a call to NAMI San Antonio, offering them to be on our show this Sunday, but there was once again… no response, just a message to call 9-1-1 which is what the Cullums did repeatedly only to find NO HELP THERE EITHER! Tavan’s life ended in a hail of bullets because the system completely failed, even the organizations who claim they exist to help the mentally ill. We'll have this revealing story, including audio clips from 9-1-1 calls and much more on our very special edition of “Families Fighting Our Corrupted Mental Health Care System,” LIVE… this Sunday morning at 11am PST. You can also download the show in archives under Channel 1 of Latalkradio.com, or listen on iTunes under Bipolar Nation Radio.
Anyone have thoughts about this story after listening to it?
02-25-2011, 02:18 PM #11Way Too Curious
- Join Date
- Oct 2009
Ugh! It's damned near impossible to get mental help these days unless you check into the mental ward (which gets much more complicated when you're trying to get an involuntary committal for someone). A couple of years ago I moved to a new city for a new job, and the change was just too drastic and my anxiety and panic disorders kicked into overdrive and it got so bad I couldn't work. I called and called and called every agency I could and even went to the emergency room twice. What I needed to do is see a psychiatrist to adjust my meds immediately, but I didn't have one since I was in a new city.
I ended up getting a ride back to the place I used to live and an emergency appointment with my psychiatrist there.
There needs to be quicker access to mental health professionals outside of the mental ward with the 72-hour hold. I did eventually get an appointment with a psychiatrist in the new city...for a month later.
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