Family of suspect killed in SPD officer-involved shooting addresses mental illness

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The family of the 22-year-old killed in an officer-involved shooting in Savannah is shedding new light on his mental state.

Loved ones tell News 3 that Deondre Seaborough-Patterson was mentally ill and off his medication when Savannah Police officers shot him.

According to the Savannah Police Department (SPD), officers were called to the 700 block of E. 34th St. around 9:20 p.m. on Thursday, January 23, for a report of a person with a gun. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), now leading the investigation, said that the call was about a home invasion.

The agency said officers gave clear instructions for Patterson to drop the weapon but he did not comply with verbal commands. The suspect, according to the GBI, pointed his weapon at officers instead and police fired at him.

The suspect’s uncle, George Seaborough, said that the family still does not know exactly what led to Seaborough-Patterson in a random family’s yard with a gun in his hand. However, he understands that his nephew was not himself that night.

George Seaborough said his nephew was diagnosed four years ago with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He said he was taken off his medication one month prior to the shooting, a decision his family fought against.

“He was acting paranoid, out of sorts. He wouldn’t eat food because he thought people were trying to poison him. (…) I believe that my sister and my mother did everything they could have done to really get him help that day. Really for the whole month, they were trying to get him back on his medicine and been denied at every turn,” said Seaborough.

Seaborough also claims the family asked officers earlier that day, and two days prior, to have his nephew committed because he was having a psychotic break, but police could not take him because they did not perceive him as a threat to himself or others. News 3 is still waiting on confirmation from SPD.

Deondre’s uncle hopes that this tragic incident will encourage others to get help.

“Mental illness is real. If you need to seek help, seek help. If you need medicine, get medicine. As a community, we need to start taking it more seriously, and as a whole, we just want people to know that Dre was not out to really hurt anyone that night. He was just seeing a movie in his head. He couldn’t get the facts right, he didn’t know what was going on. We apologize to the family that was affected by this, as well.” 

The department said that any officers involved in this shooting are on administrative leave with pay, as per department policy. The GBI will continue to investigate. Upon completion, the investigation will be turned over to the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office for review.

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