This is a complex disease. It is resistant to treatment. It is subject to relapse.Dr. Phil McGraw on additionMore later. The South Kansas City Observer extends condolences to the family of Ken Gurley and to the South Patrol officer forced to shoot him dead the morning of December 29th
This post had its genesis in the sad shooting death of one Kenny Gurley yesterday morning. Mr. Gurley was shot by a Kansas City Missouri police officer when he did not comply with orders to drop a length of metal pipe, and lunged at the officer. Here's the newspaper article on the incident. I posted the above, but ran out of time to flesh out the thoughts behind these few words.
Mr. Gurley, 40, per the testimony of his grieving mother to the press, has struggled with meth addiction for several years. He was approaching about one year of sobriety from the meth during this time. (It's funny, a friend who is about to have her one year of sobriety from alcohol was telling me about how she'd noticed that a lot of people get a little funky around that one year mark...) Neighbors had noticed a man matching Mr. Gurley's description acting oddly during the early morning, running around in the 40 degree temps without a shirt, punching the air. One neighbor noticed Mr. Gurley and another man looking into the windows of houses in the neighborhood. When they battered down the door to the empty home on 111th Terrace, they called 911.
Now, if I lent you my scanner for an hour, you would notice that these prowler calls are pretty common, and the police take them seriously. If they respond to an address, and find an open door, they will "hold the air" and carefully investigate until they know that there is no one there who is a threat to them or others. So it is with this care that the officers approached the house on 111th Terrace when they noted the open door. It didn't take long before they came across Mr. Gurley and another man as they came out the front door. Mr. Gurley had a length of pipe in his hand. He was commanded to drop the pipe. He did not drop the pipe. Per the KCPD, he threatened the officer, and he was shot twice, fatally.
The reason why I started this post with the quote from Dr. Phil was to make a note of his difficult addiction. Like I said in response to comments in the initial post, the will has a lot to do with the compulsive behavior of addiction. Using is a choice, not using is a choice, stopping is a choice and starting back up is a choice. How the addict can be helped to make the choice to stop and stay stopped is something that is up for debate. Despite anything you may have heard, no treatment modality has a 100% effectiveness/no relapse rate.
You can hear it in the anguish of his mother(KSHB video here), wishing there had been another way, wishing he had gotten back in treatment, wishing he hadn't have used again. I am sure the police officer wished there had been another way, but he wanted to go home at the end of his shift. There was a threat to that, and he had to respond as he had been trained to that threat. His response will be evaluated. I hope the Monday morning quarterbacking will be kept to a minimum, the evaluation fair and balanced.
I was noting this crime, one of several shootings over the past few days in Kansas City, because of the sad aspect of Mr. Gurley's losing battle with addition. It was not meant to be a debate over the causes of addiction per se or the best way to treat them. It was with the sadness that Mr. Gurley made the decision to use meth on Wednesday morning. That decision caused his premature death. His mother is sad at the permanent loss of hope for her son. The officer is sad he had to take a life and may be anxious for what it means for his law enforcement career. I am sad because, well, no man is an island. Mr. Gurley's death, along with the death of Sujendra Amarasingham, and Ivan Miller in November, and 100 plus other homicide victims in our city, should make us all sad. Then it should make us all mad, and ready to take action.
That is all, just a sadness at the waste of life, and a wondering if we can develop several good therapies for helping someone make the decision to stop using mind altering substances and take on life straight and sober, life the good the bad and the ugly.