Treatment facility sufficiently showed man was a danger to others

February 26, 2015

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s 90-day involuntary commitment in a mental health facility because the treatment facility presented sufficient evidence that the man posed a substantial risk of harming others and was therefore dangerous.

In In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of R.P. v. Optional Behavior MHS, 49A05-1405-MH-240, R.P. appealed his involuntary commitment, which has since ended. The Court of Appeals heard R.P.’s appeal because involuntary commitment of people for mental health reasons involves questions of great societal concern.

R.P. was refusing to take his medication to treat his mental illness when he was taken to the emergency room at Ball State Hospital for apparent mental issues and bizarre behavior. An application for emergency detention was granted, and R.P. was transferred to Options Behavioral Health System, in which a doctor determined he had schizoaffective disorder/chronic paranoid schizophrenia. R.P. also displayed grandiose paranoid delusions. He believed he needed a firearm to protect himself and threatened to shoot people he believed were harassing him. R.P. never acted on these threats.

Options sought a 90-day involuntary commitment, which was granted on the basis R.P. was dangerous to others.

Although R.P. has no history of violence or using firearms, this doesn’t preclude the trial court from finding he posed a substantial risk to others, Judge Patricia Riley wrote. His moods swung from very angry to quite calm and he had threatened to kill people, but never identified anyone. He refused to accept that he has a mental illness and only relented on taking medicine just before his commitment hearing. This evidence supports a reasonable person to conclude that R.P. posed a risk of harm to others and therefore was dangerous, the COA held.


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