Family of man with mental illness questions why police, not EMS, responded to 911 call

Family members of Lorenzo Sanchez, who suffers from schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder, were concerned he might hurt himself or that he overdosed


By Joe Mario Pedersen
Orlando Sentinel

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — A Coral Springs man with mental illness called 911 in an emergency over the summer and expected an ambulance to arrive. Instead the situation escalated into a nightmare with police drawing their weapons, according to a report by WPLG, an ABC affiliated news station in South Florida.

Lorenzo Sanchez, 31, suffers from schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder, WPLG reported.

On July 3, Sanchez was concerned he might hurt himself or that he overdosed, so his sister called for help; specifically requesting an ambulance, WPLG reported.

Soon after, police arrived ahead of paramedics, and found Sanchez in his room and in an agitated state, the report showed.

Police say the family informed officers that Sanchez was on the street drug “flakka," the family denies this and a toxicology report shows there was no flakka in his system, according to the report.

A police report shows that Sanchez became violent after an officer tried to restrain him. A video shows officers using open and closed fists, baton sticks and a stun gun in an effort to gain Sanchez’s compliance, the report shows.

One officer claimed to have seen a gun, but the family denies anyone in their home owning a gun, WPLG reported.

Sanchez was arrested and faces felony charges. He was taken to a hospital for treatment to his injuries three days after the arrest and has since been in a mental facility getting treatment, WPLG reported.

Read the full report at WPLG.

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©2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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