Mother of man killed in California neighborhood calls for changes to mental health care

Mother of man killed in California neighborhood calls for changes to mental health care
Darryl Turpin Jr. (Source: Family photo)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE 3) — The death of 26-year-old Darryl Turpin Jr. is sparking a new conversation about mental illness.

Turpin was shot and killed in the 2100 block of Grand Avenue early Saturday morning. Police say there aren't any suspects and they are still investigating.

Rumors about what may have led up to the shooting are causing Turpin's mother Juanita Turpin to question his mental state and if it played a factor in his death.

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A former Cub Scout and graduate of Male High School, Juanita says her son, who she called DJ, was set up to succeed in life.

"My son was a very handsome, very intelligent person with a lot of potential," Juanita said.

Juanita says DJ had an issue with drug use and had been showing signs of mental instability increasingly in his young adult years.

Last year, while he was recovering in a halfway home he got into a fight and was taken to the emergency room.

It was there Juanita realized just how severe his issues had become.

"He's drinking his own blood; he's sitting there with a big gash in his leg because he kicked out a window and he's about to lose his leg and he's talking out of his mind," Juanita said.

Despite being a danger to himself, Juanita says medical staff told them his condition wasn't bad enough to commit him to a mental hospital without his approval, which he refused to give.

When he was released from the ER, he agreed to go stay with his aunt in Bowling Green.

"We wanted a new start, a new opportunity," Juanita said. "He had just come back to Louisville Wednesday and he was dead by Saturday."

Overcome with grief and still putting together how this happened, Juanita says she knows what she has to do next.

"I want to make it easier for them to get the treatment that they need," Juanita said. "We need to realize as a community that this is not just for them, it's for us. We have to live with these people. I know we're not the only family who has this issue but no one wants to talk about it. Let's start talking about it for DJ."

Juanita says in addition to changing the stigma of mental illness, she wants to create a law in DJ's name that would change the requirements for emergency mental health hospitalization.

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