Community remembers Timothy Green one year after police killing
About 60 community members gathered in Olympia, Wash., Wednesday to mark the one year anniversary of the death of Timothy Green.
Green was a 37-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by Olympia police in August 2022.
Family members say Green was in the midst of a mental health crisis when he was killed.
Police reportedly responded to a Starbucks after receiving a call that a man locked himself in the bathroom and appeared “agitating and shouting.” Police say when they arrived the man walked into traffic and continued to shout, before walking back into the parking lot.
Police reported Green walked toward them while holding a knife and did not put it down when instructed. Two officers used tasers on Green before a third shot him. Green later died at a nearby hospital.
The Capital Metro Independent Investigations Team concluded its investigation into the incident in January this year and sent it to the Clark County Prosecutor for review.
Green's mother, Millie Green, said at the memorial gathering she always worried something like this could happen to her son, but thought he was safe "as long as he stayed here in Olympia.”
“I remember going to get him in Seattle and Tacoma because I said ‘that's where you're not safe, son. Come back to Olympia. Stay here.’ Boy was I so far from the truth."
Green said her son struggled with his mental health and could be violent when he was not on his medication. But she said that should not have led to his death.
“Tim had a bad day that day,” Green said, “But it shouldn’t have been his last day.”
Community members and advocates called for more support from legislators and for someone else other than law enforcement to respond to these types of incidents.
“If I break my leg, and I call 911, I'm going to get a health care response,” said Kimberly Mosolf, director of the treatment facilities program at Disability Rights Washington. “But if I am confused, or disoriented, if I'm panicking, if I'm seeing things or hearing things, and having a crisis, and I call 911, more often than not, I'm going to get a law enforcement response to what is a health care problem.”
Mosolf said police should not be involved in health care responses.
“We can't train them out of a health care response, we have to get them out of it. No one should be bringing a gun to a healthcare response. That's where the fight is.”
Green was joined by several other people whose family members have died from police violence, particularly during a mental health crisis, including Tonya Isabell whose cousinCharleena Lyles was killed by Seattle police in 2017, and Fred and Annalesa Thomas whose son Leonard Thomas was killed by Pierce County law enforcement officers in 2013.
They called for more support from legislators and for another agency besides law enforcement to respond when people need help.
“It was me, I called the police for help,” said Annalesa Thomas of the night her son was killed. “I assumed I would get help. I never dreamed in a million years that two SWAT vehicles and four hours later, my son would be dead.”
Thomas and her husband, Fred, encouraged people to talk to their legislators about this issue and ask them to support the office of independent investigations.
State Representative Darya Farivar represents parts of North Seattle and was in attendance. She said legislators have to realize how deeply embedded crisis systems are with law enforcement and figure out how to detangle them. That includes building a stronger behavioral health system and support programs like the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline, a national alternative to 911.
“We need to do our jobs to really make sure that all of the services that are going to be attached for 988 to be successful are out there in the community,” Farivar said. “The mobile crisis response, co-responder models in the places where we can't necessarily do mobile crisis, we need more peer programs, we need crisis stabilization beds, we need that whole spectrum and we're missing it.”
As people gathered in the parking lot between an Arco gas station and a Tractor Supply Co., volunteers lined the pavement with bouquets of flowers and signs memorializing Green.
Floyd Chapman is a local civil rights attorney who was among the crowd. He said while sad, the memorial left him hopeful.
“He's not the only one, but he's the one that's being lifted up today,” Chapman said. “Say his name, say the others' names. Don't let their names go into a distant memory, keep him alive, keep his spirit alive.”