March 30 marks one year from the day Brian Babb was shot and killed by a Eugene police officer while having a mental health crisis. His family is celebrating his life and reminding the public that they are still working to create a federal bill that would prevent similar deaths in the future in a March 30 event at the Vet’s Club.
The Army veteran’s family still has questions about his death and about how law enforcement handled the situation after Babb’s therapist called 911 fearing Babb was suicidal. The Eugene Police Department showed up with a BearCat armored vehicle and, within an hour of the 911 call, Babb was shot and killed by the police.
Then-district attorney Alex Gardner ruled the shooting justified, but the police department later sought to improve its response to people in a mental health crisis.
“It’s been a year, a hard year” since he died, says Babb’s sister Stephanie Babb.
She says “Brian’s Bill” seeks to develop a “new kind of first responder.” Stephanie Babb says in a situation like her brother’s, a crisis response group like CAHOOTS could not engage with him because firearms were involved, and such responders were “kicked out before they even got a chance to do anything.”
Stephanie Babb says that, yes, her brother brought a gun to the door, but, she asks, why were they at the door in the first place? Brian Babb had a flashback triggered by the militaristic police response, she says.
She wants to address the militarization of police response, and in particular, Stephanie Babb says she wants the bill to revamp how the police respond to veterans, comparing it to templates for law enforcement responses to domestic violence.
Veterans cross gender, race and socioeconomic status, she points out.
The celebration of life for Brian Babb features live music, food and a no-host bar. The celebration is free, but donations for Brian’s Bill are accepted. The event is 7 pm Wednesday, March 30, at the Vet’s Club, 1626 Willamette Street.