LAURENS COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A Laurens County family is demanding change to prevent another tragedy from happening again.
A SLED report said their daughter died in a deputy-involved shooting over the weekend. Now, they’re calling for change in the mental health care system.
If tears could tell a story, these ones would paint a better picture of what this family calls the result of a broken mental health care system.
“She was a beautiful spirit, she was loving, she was kind but my daughter was sick and she needed help,” said Kalah Gary’s Dad, Troy Williams.
Wednesday morning, Troy Williams stood on his front lawn, just steps away from where his 26-year-old daughter, Kalah Gary died Saturday night in what the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office is calling, an officer-involved shooting.
State representative and attorney for Gary’s family Justin Bamberg said it all started with a 911 call Saturday night.
“This young woman struggling with mental health, called 911 to report that the house was being burglarized. Who was the burglar, it was a person that didn’t exist,” Rep. Justin Bamberg said.
Rep. Bamberg told us when deputies got there, Gary had something long and sharp in her hands and then, pulled something else out.
“A projectile device that is manufactured to look, feel and be perceived as a real life firearm,” Bamberg told us.
Her family was shown the body cam footage. They told us, a deputy tried to get ahold of Gary in many ways, including using a taser, before a fatal bullet was fired.
They’re not pointing the finger at law enforcement but rather, mental health care. Gary was receiving psychological care up until a couple weeks ago. After she was discharged, her family said they tried to do everything they could to help.
“When she got out, we made phone calls to psychiatrists and told them, she is still not herself, she is still not in her right mind,” Williams said.
And now, they want something to change.
“Why don’t we create a voluntary system where families like this, who aren’t familiar with schizophrenia can call their local 911 centers and say, ‘I would love to have this person voluntarily placed in your registry,’ so it’s known we have someone struggling with mental illness living at this house,” Bamberg told 7NEWS.
It won’t bring back who they’ve described as a loving, beautiful woman but they’re hoping it will at least, prevent another vulnerable life from being taken.
“Our daughter’s life can mean something,” Williams said.
Gary’s family said they are appreciative of the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office for being transparent and showing this body cam footage to them.
Rep. Bamberg said Wednesday, he’s working on a law that would make it mandatory for family members of victims in officer-involved shootings to have the option of seeing the bodycam footage within 72 hours of the incident.
The Laurens County Sheriffs Office can’t comment on this incident since it’s under investigation by SLED.
No deputies were hurt.
You can find the statement from SLED on the incident below:
“Agents from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) are investigating an officer
involved shooting Saturday afternoon in Laurens County involving Laurens County deputies and
an armed woman that resulted in the woman, Kalah Shannon Gary, 26, being shot. Gary died at
the scene. No law enforcement officers were injured. SLED was requested to investigate by the
Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.
SLED conducts law enforcement officer involved shooting (OIS) investigations at the request of
the agency involved in the incident or the agency with jurisdiction. When requested to investigate
an OIS, SLED’s goal is to conduct a thorough, independent criminal investigation as timely as is
possible under the circumstances. SLED agents will conduct interviews with all potential witnesses
in this matter. Further, SLED will collect all relevant evidence and will forensically test such
evidence as needed.
Information gathered in the SLED investigation of the incident will be summarized in a case file
report to be submitted to prosecutors. This is an ongoing investigation. As such, no other
information about the case will be disclosed by SLED at this time.”