Community rallies around jailed man with reported mental health issues

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A man who has spent the last three months in jail will now be set free after a court hearing Thursday afternoon, but his family says he shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Last November, Hiram Farmer‘s mother filed paperwork to have him involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation.

Things went south when police tried to take him into custody and Farmer landed in jail.

Police say 35-year-old Farmer tried to run and they took him down.

A video shows police punching Farmer, who was then tased after police say he bit an officer on the arm.

“It speaks to issues with mental health and how law enforcement handles people who are mentally ill,” said Rhonda Sekhmet-Ra.

Outside of the New Hanover County Courthouse, a crowd of supporters made up of family, friends, and other community members shouted “No justice, no peace!” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”

A friend of Farmer’s since childhood, who says he’s been a victim of police brutality, says he believes police need more training when it comes to dealing with the mentally ill.

“They can buy drones and army tanks and guns, and body cams, but they can’t find enough money to help with the mental challenges that’s going on in this city,” Donald McKoy said. “If you look around, even downtown right here, you see all these people around here, homeless people, these are mentally ill people.”

At a bond hearing in court, Farmer’s lawyer Micheal Littlejohn asked that his current $30,000 secured bond be made unsecured. The judge granted this, and a pre-trial release, on the condition that farmer live with his grandmother and undergo mental health treatment.

“We’re happy that he’ll be able to get the treatment that he needs, and he can spend time with friends and family, and his support system behind me,” said Littlejohn. “And just for today, just being able to spend time with his mom on her birthday.”

“We are elated, we are so happy,” said Farmer’s grandmother Mary Scott. “Hi’s a good boy, he’s a good man. And we are so glad he got good lawyers, and I thank God for them. God is good.”

Farmer was ultimately ordered to be released on the condition that he live with his grandmother and undergo mental health treatment.

Back in January, Farmer filed a lawsuit against law enforcement for excessive force.

New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Jerry Brewer told us the use of force was necessary because Farmer bit a deputy.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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