Attorney Andrew Shubin says the parents of Osaze Osagie feel enormous grief, as any parent would if they lost their son.
“But, in this situation, it’s far more complicated and really devastating," Shubin said. "You have a parent who reached out for help, who set the wheels in motion for what eventually wound up as a police shooting of their son."
The Osagies have hired Shubin and Kathleen Yurchak to represent them. When asked if they are considering taking legal action, Shubin said the Osagie family is focused on grieving for their son and waiting for more information on the investigation.
A State College police officer fatally shot Osagie on March 20 when police went to make a mental health check on him. Osagie’s father had contacted police for help.
Osagie reportedly confronted police with a knife. The Pennsylvania State Police are handling the investigation.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania is also calling for transparency in a case that has left many wondering what happened.
Osagie was African American and autistic. Shubin and Yurchak are calling for an independent investigation to include what role mental health and race may have played in the shooting.
“Whatever happens in the investigation, I think, the community, the police and the district attorney will agree there are certainly better ways to handle this that need to be examined,” Yurchak said.
The ACLU is also calling for full disclosure of the details of the case. Executive director Reggie Shuford said the parents deserve to know what happened to their son.
Shuford also said there’s concern police are not the most appropriate first responders for some situations, including mental health crises.
“People with disabilities and people of color suffer killings by the police disproportionately, and when you are a person of color who has a disability, it’s like a double whammy,” he said.
A celebration of life for Osagie will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the State College Alliance Church.
Andrew Shubin is an underwriter of WPSU.