The attorney for the 17-year-old boy who was shot in the wrist during a confrontation with police at Roosevelt High School this week said he needs to be housed and treated in a secure mental health facility on the mainland because there are no appropriate facilities in the islands.
Eric Seitz said he plans to meet with representatives of the prosecutor’s office, health department and state Department of Education to find a suitable mainland treatment facility that is secure and locked 24 hours. The facility, he said, also needs to provide services and programs for children who have psychiatric, mental health needs, which in this case are complicated by substance abuse.
No such facility exists in the state, Seitz said.
Kahi Mohala in Ewa Beach and the Queen’s Family Treatment Center, Seitz said, are “crisis-oriented programs where kids can go to be stabilized.
“But once they are stabilized then they should go to an appropriate program and we don’t have any. You can’t stabilize the kid and then kick him out and say we know you are going to be back here because your underlining problems have not been treated,” Seitz said.
The teen’s mother, Shereen Narvaes, said her son has been diagnosed under a broad spectrum of psychiatric illnesses that includes schizophrenia, and that for the last year she has been trying to get him treatment.
About two weeks ago, Narvaes said, her son had been awaiting a psychiatric review to determine fitness to stand trial for misdemeanor charges when he escaped from the Queen’s Medical Center, where he had been admitted by court order. He later also escaped from a facility operated by Hale Kipa, a social service agency serving at-risk/high-risk youth.
The teenager went to Roosevelt Tuesday to try to register for classes.
School officials called police to take him into custody, aware of his background and that he had been reported as a runaway after he had fled several treatment facilities.
Roosevelt Principial Jeanette Uyeda said “his mother had called us to let us know he was a runaway.”
When he saw police officers at a school counselor’s office, he allegedly became “combative” and lunged at them with a kitchen knife, inflicting minor injuries. One of the officers, a 10-year-veteran, fired two shots. One struck the boy on the wrist.
The boy was taken to Queen’s for surgery and will be transferred to its psychiatric unit, pending the outcome of Seitz efforts.
Seitz said because he is a minor the case was referred to the Family Court, where all proceedings are confidential. The teenager was arrested on suspicion of three counts of first-degree attempted murder.
Seitz said he would fight any attempt to move the case out of Family Court and allow his client to be tried as an adult.
There are still failures in the system, even 20 years after the federal Felix consent decree intended to correct inadequacies, he said.
“The kid has been in and out of facilities here for over the past year,” said Seitz, the attorney representing Jennifer Felix who filed the original class-action lawsuit in 1993.
“The standard response from the DOH (Department of Health) and DOE (Department of Education) is that we are not going to send kids to the mainland until we force them to do it,” Seitz said.
“Why is it after 20 years and spending billions of dollars the state has not created and maintained that which they agreed to under the Felix consent decree is beyond me?”