On The 9th Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me… Nine Ladies Dancing
In Loving Memory of Shane Watkins ~ October 2, 1975 -March 19, 2015
By Jonece Dunigan
LANGTOWN — Shane Watkins, fatally shot Thursday by a Lawrence County sheriff’s deputy, had an appointment today to seek treatment for his mental illness, his mother said.
Watkins, 39, was shot at the residence he shared with his mother at 1040 Lawrence 249 in this rural community north of Moulton.
Watkins’ scheduled appointment was today at the Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama in Moulton, his mother said. Watkins was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late 20s, she said.
Sheriff Gene Mitchell said two officers answered a domestic call about 8 a.m. Thursday. He said Watkins was armed when officers approached him. Watkins’ mother, Darlene Watkins, said her son had a box cutter in his hand.
Mitchell said the officers gave verbal commands to put the weapon down, but he didn’t comply. Instead, Watkins charged at the deputies, and one of the officers responded by fatally shooting him, according to the sheriff’s department.
“I understand that they were in close proximity to each other,” Mitchell said. “If someone is coming at you with a knife and he was in an aggressive mood, then that distance closes very fast.”
But Darlene Watkins, 67, painted a different picture. She said her son called police to the house, saying she was trying to keep him captive and was going to kill him and his dog. She said she called 911 soon afterward, saying she didn’t have guns in her house and that her son was mentally ill.
Darlene Watkins said her son became worried when he heard police coming. She saw him grab a box cutter, and he threatened to kill himself.
“He said, ‘The police are going to kill me,’ ” she said. “I told him, ‘No, they want to get you on the right track, Shane. They wanna help you.’ ”
With the knife pointed toward his chest, the mother said Shane Watkins rushed outside through the side door, where her vehicle was parked. Darlene Watkins said her son went to the right side of the vehicle while the officers stood with their guns drawn on the left side.
Standing in the doorway of the side door, Darlene Watkins said she told officers her son did not have a gun, but a box cutter. Family members said Shane Watkins had back surgery a month ago, and that he would have had a hard time attacking police.
Darlene Watkins said her son didn’t charge at the officers, nor did she hear the officers give verbal commands.
“(Shane Watkins) said, ‘Don’t come any closer.’ That’s what I heard him say,” Darlene Watkins said. “Before they had a chance to talk to him, they just shot him.”
Darlene Watkins said the officer fired four shots. One of the bullets hit the hood of her car, and her son fell to the ground, she said.
Shane and Darlene Watkins moved into the area a month and a half ago from Colorado because they wanted to be close to family, the mother said.
Shane Watkins’ sister, Yvonne Motes, said he was off his medications for almost three weeks and became lost in a world of illusions and thoughts of suicide. His mother said he called himself a “god of the fifth element.”
Three hours after the shooting, family and friends filled Watkins’ small living room. The mother collapsed in the arms of her ex-husband, Bob Watkins. She gasped for air as she cried on his chest.
Although surrounded by friends, it was a family reunion she didn’t want. Her driveway was filled with yellow caution tape. Pools of her son’s blood spotted the ground. Alabama Bureau of Investigation officers scanned the premises for evidence. The agency is working with the sheriff’s department during the investigation.
Bob Watkins questioned why the officer didn’t use another form of force to take down his son.
“I understand that a police officer has to do what they have to do, but why four slugs?” Bob Watkins said, his voice quivering. “It don’t take four slugs to take down a deer. With all the training they have taken, they could have restrained him or Tased him.”
Mitchell disputes the number of shots fired.
“I don’t know the number of shots. In fact, the comment one of the officers made since then was that it was much less than four, but we will wait to see what the investigation shows us,” he said.
The officer, whose name was not released, didn’t have a Taser because he was an investigator with the sheriff’s department and not a road deputy, Mitchell said. He also reported one officer did wear a body camera, but Mitchell wasn’t sure if it was on.
Mitchell said the officers were not placed on administrative leave but will be taken off street patrol.
“They may go on leave at some point, but we need to get the initial investigation done,” Mitchell said. “If it’s for the good of the officer, he won’t be out working in the streets. That’s the main thing about putting them on leave anyway. They shouldn’t be out doing another investigation.”
Mitchell said this was the only officer-related fatality during his nine years as sheriff. “This is not anything that any sheriff, sheriff’s department or any law enforcement agency wants to go through,” Mitchell said. “There are no winners here. It’s awful on all sides. … We wish the family the best.”
Darlene Watkins said she tried to get her son treatment for his illness Monday, but she was declined from mental facilities in Moulton and Decatur because there were not enough beds.
Now grief, a whirlwind of questions and her son’s small dog are her company in her small residence.
“Why did they have to shoot my son?” Darlene Watkins said. “He needed help and that’s the way our society helps people is to kill them? I tried to do everything I could to get the help he needed. Hopefully, we can get some justice.”
Nine Ladies Dancing
The nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness, 6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
These are in OPPOSITION to the WORKS of the FLESH!
The FRUIT of the SPIRIT are VICTORIOUS!