Photos of Joshua Barre sit on a table in his mother’s home in north Tulsa. KASSIE MCCLUNG/The Frontier

The family of a mentally ill man who was fatally shot by law enforcement in June intends to file a lawsuit against the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, saying TCSO failed multiple times to take the man into custody on a mental health order.

Joshua Barre, 29, was fatally shot by officers after he entered a convenience store carrying two large knives on June 9. Two Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office deputies requested assistance from the Tulsa Police Department after neighbors said they saw Barre walking down the street carrying the knives, according to a TPD statement released at the time.

Earlier this week the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office announced no charges would be filed against either the  Tulsa police officer or the two Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office deputies involved in the shooting.

Authorities say deputies with TCSO’s mental health unit — who have specialized training — sought to take Barre into custody for a mental health evaluation at least three times before officers fatally shot him.

A letter sent on August 21 from the family’s attorney announcing a notice of tort claim and intent to file a suit against the Sheriff’s Office states deputies failed Barre when they failed numerous times to take him into custody.

Barre’s estate also intends to pursue claims for “negligent supervision and training, and any other cause of action arising from the negligent actions surrounding the shooting and its aftermath.”

“TCSO failed to execute their legal duty and obligation and take Mr. Barre into custody even knowing he was off his medication, posed a risk of harm to himself and others, and needed assistance,” the letter states.

“Over several weeks, and immediately preceding the shooting death of Joshua Barre, there were multiple opportunities, for TCSO, to take Mr. Barre into custody where he posed no arguable risk of harm.”

Warning: graphic

The county has 90 days to respond to the claim.

Police say a deputy used a taser on Barre before they shot him, but it had no affect on him. They rendered aid and called EMS immediately, but Barre died at a hospital, authorities said.

TCSO spokeswoman Casey Roebuck said the agency can’t comment on pending litigation.

Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado told The Frontier in June that deputies didn’t want to escalate the situation to the point use of force would be necessary. Instead, they chose to wait for an opportunity to complete the mental health pickup at a later date when it would be safer, Regalado said.

‘I thought they would get my son to safety’
Etta Lowe-Barre, Joshua’s mother, told The Frontier on Thursday she feels like the Sheriff’s Office failed her son.

“I thought they would would get my son to safety,” she said. “They promised me that they would talk to him. I stated that, ‘I do not want you all to hurt my son.’ And they said, ‘We promise we won’t.’

“They promised me that they would get him thereir safe. And they failed him.”

Joshua Barre’s mother, Etta Lowe-Barre, told The Frontier she believes TCSO failed her son. KASSIE MCCLUNG/The Frontier

In June, the Tulsa World reported TCSO deputies fired a Taser through Barre’s window during an attempt to pick him up on a mental health call just two days before the fatal shooting.

Lowe-Barre said learning deputies fired a Taser into her son’s home was painful.

“It hurts. It hurts so bad,” she said. “Because I just feel like they failed my son. And it was like a game to them, and it was real.

“He was a human being. And I’m just sad how people can treat humans like that, especially when they have a disability. Why would they taunt him like that? He was already in a bad state.”

The letter announcing intent to sue states TCSO had multiple opportunities to take Barre in for a mental health evaluation.

“However, despite these numerous opportunities, TCSO exacerbated Mr. Barre’s already unstable mental condition, and ultimately corralled him to a convenience store in a highly populated area, where seconds later, he was shot to death,” the letter says.

“These actions and or inactions constitute negligence and deliberate indifference and created a dangerous condition leading to an excessive use of force in the shooting death of Joshua Barre.”

The family has retained Tulsa law firm Smolen, Smolen & Roytman.

Earlier this week, the Tulsa County DA’s Office determined the officers were justified in using deadly force against Barre.

Lowe-Barre said she wasn’t shocked, but was “devastated” at the decision.

Under state law, law enforcement are the appointed body to transport people to and from mental health facilities when it is deemed they are a danger to themselves or others.

On June 1, the TCSO mental health unit went to Barre’s home where he was allegedly armed with a hammer and yelling threats at deputies, the statements says. Police say because he was in the house alone and didn’t pose an immediate threat to the public, they left.

On June 5, a neighbor notified deputies stating Barre was allegedly up the previous night, scaring her children, police said. Officers weren’t able to locate Barre that night.

On June 7, police said they again went to Barre’s home where he allegedly threatened to kill officers. Deputies again left the house because Barre wasn’t an immediate threat to the public.

Lowe-Barre told The Frontier in June her son had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and likely had Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. In high school, he was designated as learning disabled. He was not on his prescribed medication when he was fatally shot by officers, she said.

Aside from a citation for public intoxication in 2012, Barre had no criminal record, according to online court records.

Lowe-Barre said she feels like her son’s “blood was not in vain.” She hopes to help other families in ensuring a similar situation doesn’t happen to someone else.

“What keeps me going is I know he’s not suffering anymore,” Lowe-Barre said. “It’s been hard for my family. It’s been really hard.”

Barre family attorney: ‘Significant’ failure of law enforcement communicating with family, mental health professionals

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