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Family questions fatal Norfolk police shooting

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Local,Virginia

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The family of a man shot and killed by Norfolk police say he was mentally ill, and that officers had helped him get psychiatric care in the past.

David Latham, 35, was shot Friday night at his parents' residence, where he lived, media outlets reported.

Norfolk police Officer Daniel Hudson said Latham was shot after he threatened an officer with a knife.

Audrey Latham, David Latham's mother, said her son had schizophrenia and had recently stopped taking his medication, stopped eating and stopped sleeping.

Police had come to the family's home in the past to help David Latham get psychiatric care. The previous week, police took him to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and he was released the same day, Audrey Latham said.

She said the family told a dispatcher about her son's problems when they called 911 Friday night after he threatened his brother with a knife.

David Latham held the knife at his side and was not brandishing it when police arrived, she said.

"Why couldn't they use a better method instead of shooting him down like that? Why did they have to shoot him so many times, why, even after he was on the floor?" she asked.

Latham's brother, Anthony Latham, said he had asked the officer to use a stun gun.

"I understand that young people today are more dangerous than anything in the world, that I understand," said Barbara Latham White, David Latham's aunt. "But, there are ways to deal with them. And especially if you get a call about a person with a mental illness. What are the Tasers for?"

It was the third fatal police shooting in Norfolk in eight days.

City spokeswoman Lori Crouch said the investigation is ongoing.

Michael Muhammad, an activist who has worked as a consultant for the mayor, also questioned the shooting.

"There were babies and other people in the house, and the officer exhibited very little to no consideration for human life," Muhammad said. "This begs the question, what is the process for helping someone with a mental health condition? Where is the training?"

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