‘He didn’t get help. He got bullets:’ Family of 23-year-old killed by police say he was mentally ill

A mother and father say their mentally ill son needed help and two medical facilities they trusted failed them, leading to his death at the hands of police. The parents have now filed a lawsuit.

Channel 2′s Tom Jones was at a news conference Tuesday, where 23-year-old Darryl Fussell II’s parents said mental illness shouldn’t be a death sentence.

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Fussell’s mother, Kimberly Fussell, said her son would be alive if not for the actions of Southern Regional Hospital and a nearby psychiatric facility.

“Why didn’t they treat him like a patient who needed help,” Kimberly Fussell said at a news conference held by the Cochran Firm.

The mother was in tears and she said so much went wrong when she and her husband sought help for their mentally ill son.

“He didn’t get his help. He got bullets,” she said through sobs.

Riverdale Police shot Fussell 9 times, killing him back in April.

His parents filed a lawsuit against Southern Regional and nearby Riverwoods Behavioral Health System of Atlanta, alleging the actions of the two led to their son’s death. Their attorney said Riverwoods sent Fussell to Southern Regional but didn’t communicate he was involuntarily committed and he was a danger to himself and others.

“Somebody should have called over to Riverwoods and said, ‘Hey, this guy came from Riverwoods. What’s going on? We don’t know anything about him,’” she explained.


The lawsuit alleges Fussell wasn’t placed in a secure room and walked out of Southern Regional. Police encountered him at a nearby building undergoing construction. They say they shot him after he tried to attack an officer with scissors.

Fussell’s mother says her son would still be here if the two facilities had done their jobs.

“I don’t want any more moms to feel like this,” she said.

Southern Regional says it denies all allegations and couldn’t comment further because of the litigation. A person who answered the phone at Riverwoods said no one there could speak to the media about the lawsuit.

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Kimberly Fussell sobbed throughout the news conference. Before the news conference ended she said that the system failed her family.

Attorneys for Fussell’s parents say they are awaiting the Clayton County District Attorney’s review of the case before deciding whether to include Riverdale police in a lawsuit.

The district attorney says her office just got the case from the GBI last week and it is still under review.