By Ada Carlston
New York City, New York
On December 30, 2020, nineteen-year-old Chinese-American Christian Hall was experiencing a mental health crisis when Pennsylvania police were called to offer assistance to Hall’s state. Minutes later, Hall was shot seven times by Pennsylvania State Police officers on a highway overpass. According to the State Police, Hall placed his firearm on the ground when the officers first asked. Following a standoff between the officers and Hall, he “became uncooperative and retrieved the firearm and began walking towards the troopers.” The officers reportedly began shooting when he pointed his firearm in their direction. A video taken by an eyewitness near the overpass, however, showed Hall collapsing after standing still with his hands in the air. Hall’s parents, Fe and Gareth Hall, adopted Hall at the age of one and called 9-1-1 three times that day in distress. Hall’s family now calls for justice for him and teenagers who are victims of police brutality.
The Black Lives Matter movement has sparked the passion for many people to bring awareness to police brutality toward Black Americans, but the movement has recently increased its focus on mental health reform; calls to defund the police tend are often directly connected to advocacy for greater mental health resources across the country. Hall was contemplating suicide in the moments before he was fatally shot according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, whose Julie Coleman wrote that “death is another example of police mishandling calls involving mental illness.”
Hall’s parents are holding the Pennsylvania State Police accountable for their actions through the help of Ben Crump, who has represented the families of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin and Breonna Taylor. Hall’s case is one of the first concerning police brutality and mental health to garner such international attention, and it has led to widespread calls for defunding the police and funding mental health reform. Hall’s family has since announced a lawsuit and a demand to defund the Pennsylvania State Police.