Mental Health

Family Of Mentally Ill Man Shot And Killed By Police Files Legal Claim

Dennis Carolino, 53, was shot and killed by an officer during a mental health call to police on Aug. 24, 2019

Dennis Carolino family photo
Carolino Family Photo

The family of a mentally-ill man armed with a shovel who was shot and killed by San Diego Police Officers in August 2019 have filed a legal claim with the city of San Diego.

Police officers Jose Mendez and Brad Keyes were called to a home on Adelaide Avenue on Aug. 24, 2019, after a woman called 911 to request a mental health team help assist her with nephew, Dennis Carolino. The 53-year-old had, according to a legal claim that NBC 7 Investigates obtained through a public records request, thrown a rock at her home. 

David Carolino, the man’s brother, filed the legal claim on Jan. 17, 2020, alleging his aunt, Rose Carolino, told dispatchers that his brother was in the midst of a psychotic breakdown. 

“Two San Diego Police officers...without probable or gold cause, shot and killed my brother, Dennis Carolino. [He] did not pose an immediate threat of bodily injury or harm to either of them,” reads the claim. “They did not seek alternatives first. As a result of the police killing my brother, I suffered and continue to suffer emotional distress.”

The shooting was caught on body camera footage and was released by San Diego police in October 2019, two months after the shooting took place.

An SDPD officer shot Dennis Carolino, 53, seven times as Carolino rushed toward officers with a shovel.

When officers Mendez and Keyes arrived at the El Cerrito home, Rose Carolino led officers to a dwelling in the backyard where Dennis Carolino lived. Rose Carolino is heard telling officers that her nephew Dennis Carolino suffered from a “mental problem.”  

Video from the altercation shows Dennis Carolino exiting from the shed armed with a shovel. Mendez fired his taser as Keyes fired his gun, killing Dennis Carolino. 

In an October interview, Dennis Carolino’s other brother, Anthony Carolino, told NBC 7 after the shooting that police failed to take the necessary steps when dealing with the mentally ill. 

"They have PERT, the Psychological Emergency Response Team,” said Anthony Carolino in October 2019, after the San Diego Police Department released the body cam footage. “They have a canine unit. They're supposed to be able to handle a mental illness person.”

A spokesperson for the police department declined to comment due to “pending litigation.”

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