Parents of slain mentally ill man seek stricter law for treatment

The Seattle TimesJanuary 26, 2014 

Doug and Nancy Reuter, parents of Joel Reuter, came to Olympia from Texas to campaign for stronger legislation for the involuntary treatment of people with mental illness. Their son Joel, 28, was fatally shot by police last summer on Capitol Hill.

BETTINA HANSEN — The Seattle Times

At some point, during one of dozens of unsuccessful pleas to Seattle officials, Doug Reuter remembers asking what it would take to get his mentally ill son detained for treatment.

Reuter, who was living in Texas and unfamiliar with Washington state’s narrow involuntary-commitment law, was stunned by the answer.

“If he had a loaded gun in his hand with his finger on the trigger, we could get him some help,” Reuter says he was told.

“And that’s exactly what Joel had on the morning of July 5,” the father continues. “And the help they gave was to shoot and kill him.”

Joel Reuter, a 28-year-old software engineer with bipolar disorder, was killed by police in July after firing near officers from the balcony of his Capitol Hill condo.

He thought he was shooting at zombies.

Six months later, his parents have moved from Dallas to Olympia to lobby the Legislature to make it easier to commit mentally ill people.

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