Record reveals mental health care Virginia man killed by police was ordered to receive before hospital removal

 Charles Byers' temporary detention order
Posted at 7:04 PM, Jul 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-19 19:27:48-04

RICHMOND, Va -- CBS 6 obtained access to Charles Byers' temporary detention order Wednesday, which revealed new details about the mental health crisis he experienced and the care he was ordered to receive before being shot and killed by Chesterfield Police.

Under a state code that allows the court to disclose confidential materials pertaining to dispositional orders, Judge Mansi Shah in Richmond General District Court approved CBS 6's petition to view Byers' temporary detention order (TDO). Reporter Tyler Layne was allowed to view the document inside the courtroom but was not granted a copy of the order due to the sensitive nature of the information.

Typically, according to Richmond General District Court Clerk Cecelia Garner, the court would have a host of records related to a person's dispositional order to include commitment hearing recordings, medical records, and reports.

But in Byers' case, the court only had one single page -- the TDO, which was issued by a Richmond magistrate.

Under a TDO, an individual is typically required to be held at a psychiatric facility for up to 72 hours or until a commitment hearing is held. During a commitment hearing, a special justice would determine whether the individual is in need of additional mental health services.

Byers' TDO showed Richmond Behavioral Health Authority evaluated Byers and found that he:

  • Had a mental illness that could result in harm to himself or others or suffer harm due to lack of capacity to protect himself
  • Was in need of hospitalization or treatment
  • Was unwilling or incapable of volunteering for hospitalization or treatment
 Chippenham Hospital
Chippenham Hospital

READ MORE: Richmond Police Incident/Investigation Report

At the time of issuance on July 6, Byers was already at Chippenham Hospital after Chesterfield Police said his family took him to the hospital on July 5 for mental health treatment.

The document listed Central State Hospital as the name of the TDO facility.

But generally speaking, John Lindstrom with the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority said sometimes they will list the state facility as the designated TDO facility as a backup option as they race the deadline to find available beds elsewhere.

The record also revealed that prior to placement at Central State, Byers was to receive emergency medical evaluation or treatment at Chippenham's Tucker Pavilion.

Central State Hospital
Central State Hospital

Ultimately, under the "executed" portion of the TDO, the temporary detention facility was listed as Tucker Pavilion, not Central State.

Chesterfield Police executed the TDO around 3:00 a.m. July 6, and Byers was delivered to the facility about 12 hours later around 3:00 p.m.

But after only being in the psychiatric facility for just over three hours, around 6:30 p.m., Byers was arrested by Richmond Police for an alleged assault against a healthcare worker. The police incident report revealed the alleged assault involved no injuries and no weapons.

Byers was then taken to the city jail and appeared before a Richmond magistrate. The magistrate released Byers back out into the public around 10 p.m. that night on his own recognizance. A court spokesperson said magistrates only consider information given to them by law enforcement and the defendant when making a determination on someone's release.

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On July 8 around 1 p.m., Chesterfield Police were called to Wycliff Court for reports of Byers trying to break into peoples' homes. Police said Byers had a hatchet and refused to drop it when confronted by officers. He was shot and killed by officers after police said a taser was ineffective.

“To the individual who is suffering with a mental health crisis, the failure to get them into a bed with proper care, proper resources, is a disservice to everybody, and it's very frustrating," Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard said during an interview Wednesday.

Though his office is not connected to the case, Leonard spoke to CBS 6 about his years of experience dealing with subjects under mental health orders.

Generally, he said it gets complex if the person commits a criminal offense during the process.

“Some of these people do become violent or act out just because of their condition, not as an intentional act to hurt someone, they’re in crisis. These caretakers in these facilities really should not be subject to that. Unfortunately, what happens is, when that occurs, we then do criminalize that behavior, and then place the person into a criminal justice environment. We’ve really just complicated the whole process," Leonard said.

Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard
Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard
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But he said law enforcement will evaluate criminal offenses of those in crisis on a "case by case basis" by balancing the safety risks of the situation with providing care to the person suffering from mental illness.

He said a jail is not the place for those in crisis to go, but that's what plays out anyway time and time again due to what he called a failed mental health system that spills over into the criminal justice system.

“We've got to quit talking about this problem, we've got to get to solving this problem," Leonard said.

He added, "And the action is simple. We need beds. We need beds throughout Virginia, 24-hour access for somebody in crisis to get the help they need, when they need it.”

According to the state code, a facility director can release someone under a TDO if they determine the individual no longer meets the criteria for temporary detention. CBS 6 asked Chippenham Hospital if that was the case with Byers, and a spokesperson said they cannot comment.

Richmond Police has not answered any questions about the circumstances of the alleged assault, why they would remove someone in crisis from a hospital while under a TDO, and what information the arresting law enforcement gave the magistrate following Byers' arrest.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email to send a tip.



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