California State University, San Bernardino, police on Saturday shot to death an unarmed Black graduate student who suffered from a bipolar disorder. The student was shot during a fight with police inside a campus building.
The university police fired five shots at Bartholomew Williams, 38, fatally wounding him with a bullet to the chest, Lt. Paul Williams, spokesman for the San Bernardino Police Department, told The NorthStar News & Analysis. The incident occurred during a struggle in the hallway of one of the school’s housing units, according to Lt. Williams, who was investigating the shooting.
Williams, an Oregon native, was working on his second master’s degree in educational technology, Sid Robinson, a Cal State San Bernardino spokesman, said.
“He had enrolled in graduate school in the summer of 2011,” Robinson said. Williams took one course during the fall semester, which ended on Friday.
Lt. Williams said three university police officers had been called to University Village, a housing complex where Williams lived, after someone complained that he was causing a disturbance. It was not clear what the disturbance involved. It was the third call campus police received that day involving Williams, Lt. Williams said.
Two of the calls were received in the morning. The last call occurred around 6:30 p.m. This time, police attempted to handcuff Williams, and he began fighting them, Lt. Williams said. The university police ordered him to comply with their demands. Then they attacked him with pepper spray and used their batons to beat Williams, but these actions had no effect on him, police said.
Williams wrestled one of the campus police officers to the ground and began kicking him in the head and in the chest, Lt. Williams said. Two campus police officers, one female and one male, then fired five shots at Williams, killing him instantly.
Police said they killed Williams because they feared for their lives. The woman officer was treated at a local hospital for a sprained thumb, reported The San Jose Mercury News. The university placed the three officers on leave while the San Bernardino police investigate the shooting death.
Williams’ parents told KTLA, a television station, that their son had been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder when he was 21 years old. San Bernardino police said Williams was not taking his medication to control the disorder. The San Jose Mercury News reported that a campus physician was prescribing medicine for Williams.
U. S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., who was being treated for a bipolar II disorder at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., recently resigned from Congress because of his mental health.
In a statement, Cal State San Bernardino officials expressed their deepest sympathies to Williams’ family.