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Police encountered rocky road to get accused deputy US Marshal killer mental health help

What families can expect of the process
Posted: 5:31 PM, Dec 11, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-12 01:42:11Z
Deputy U.S. Marshal fatally shot in Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. - A deputy U.S. Marshal was shot and killed nearly two weeks ago in Tucson and we're starting to learn more about the man who police say fired the fatal shots.

Ryan Schlesinger had a complicated history with Tucson Police. It began more than a year ago, when officers tried to force him into getting mental health treatment. That action -- which can be taken by police, family or members of the community -- is called a Title 36.

Now, we're learning more about the process of getting someone help if they don't want it.

Paula Perrara, the director of the Pima County Department of Behavioral Health, says it happens more than you might think.

"Quite a bit actually I believe," she said. "You'd have to check with the county attorney's office, but its roughly about 2,000 applications for a court-ordered evaluation that are processed every year."

Perrara says there is an emergency route and a non-emergency route for filing these applications.

"If a person is an imminent danger to themselves or others, they are evaluated," she said. "They could be held for up to 72 hours while the best course of action is determined."

For non-emergencies, a screening agency will go to wherever the person is.

"If that person is living in a park they'll go to the park. If that person is in the nursing home they'll go to the nursing home," Perrara said.

Two mental health professionals conduct the interview and they, along with the medical director, decide whether to bring the person in for an evaluation.

"It's an intrusion on somebody's liberties, and so the court has set a higher standard," Perrara said. "The law requires that you really convinced the court that this person can't follow through with treatment on their own, or won't."

In both emergency and non-emergency route, psychiatrists will decide whether they think that person is capable or incapable of following through with treatment on their own.