Joshua Barre is seen at the entrance of a convenience store before police shot him. (241237)
Credit: Tulsa Sheriff's Office

After the acquittal of white Tulsa, Okla., police officer Betty Shelby for the killing of unarmed, Black father Terence Crutcher, the city is grappling with yet another police shooting of a Black man.

Reports indicate 29-year-old Joshua Barre was shot by law enforcement Friday when he allegedly was holding two large knives while walking on the street.

Barre suffered from mental illness, and deputies with the county’s mental health team had gone to his home earlier in the day to take him for a mental health evaluation. A neighbor informed the officers that Barre left the home with the two knives.

Making his way to a convenience store, Barre was allegedly threatening people with the knives. When Barre went into the store, officers yelled out commands for him to stop and drop the knives but he allegedly walked away.

Deputies reportedly used a stun gun, but it had no effect on Barre. Two sheriff deputies and one police officer then opened fire. The number of shots fired is unclear. Barre was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

“My son was mentally ill and they didn’t have to kill my son,” Barre’s mother, Etta Jones Barre, said to the media. “They could have done something different. He was probably frightened for his life, but my son was not a violent person.”

Outrage from the community was immediate, with people gathering at the site of the shooting to protest the killing. A reported 300 people gathered at the scene. Officers arrived on the scene in helmets and riot gear, reporting that pieces of concrete and rocks were thrown at them.

Tuesday, friends and family of Barre gathered for a prayer vigil and walk. The group recounted the 11 blocks police followed Barre before he made it to the convenience store. Along with raising awareness about police shootings, Barre’s death has also sparked a discussion on how police respond to people with mental health issues.

“We want to raise awareness for mental illness. They cannot speak for themselves. It’s unfair that you have to lose your life because you don’t think like everybody else,” said Joshua’s sister, Nyesha Barre.

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into the shooting. The officer and deputies involved are on administrative leave as the investigation continues.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma is calling for an independent investigation.

“We have serious doubts about the capability of Tulsa Police Department and Tulsa County Sheriff’s office to investigate this morning’s killing in an unbiased and honest manner,” said Executive Director Ryan Kiesel. “Indeed, both the TPD and TCSO have a track record of dehumanizing and killing people they are supposed to protect and serve. Equally distressing is the Tulsa Police Department’s recent history of giving its officers inappropriate and preferential treatment when investigating their use of deadly force.”