Our son, Michael Conlon, was shot dead by Newton Police on January 5th.
The way he died is unfathomable to our family, as is the shameful description of Michael as a dangerous knife-wielding thief and the general public misunderstanding of mental illness. The Newton Police Reform Task Force report, released last week, is a step in the right direction. But it’s important for the public and the legislature to know that it’s not just about politics or punishment – it’s about people.
Michael was a sweet soul who loved his family above all else and was a caring and caring son, brother, grandson, nephew and brother-in-law. He looked forward to becoming an uncle and getting involved in the baby’s life on a regular basis. Michael could be reserved and calm in the company of others, but in the comfort of his home he enjoyed sharing his thoughts on world events. Michael had a great sense of humor and infectious laughter and loved listening to music.
Every day, Michael faced the reality of living with a mental illness, just like millions of people in our country. He has worked hard to build an independent life, to be a good neighbor and to settle in his community. We texted every day until the weekends arrived when he came home. Now every day we remember his glaring absence from our lives and how his life ended.
We recognize that Newton is developing a multidisciplinary team to respond to the crisis situations facing the mentally ill, and we recognize Newton’s commitment to providing its agents with access to training for this purpose. However, given that one in five American adults suffers from a mental illness, one in 20 American adults suffers from a serious mental illness, and that 17% of young people suffer from a mental health disorder, we believe that training is not only necessary, but also necessary. We wonder if, if this training had been mandatory for all agents on January 5th, Michael might still be with us.
The Conlon family