Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday launched an investigation into a hospital’s handling of a man who sought psychiatric care just days before he fatally ambushed a New York Police Department officer sitting in a mobile command post.
“Under tragic circumstances such as these, it is critical to ensure all proper procedures and safeguards were taken,” Cuomo said Thursday in a statement. “At my direction, the state Department of Health and Office of Mental Health are launching an immediate review of St. Barnabas Hospital’s actions and policies in admitting, treating and discharging this individual.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, said the review will determine if all relevant state laws, regulations and guidelines were followed. Police officials said that only a few hours before the early Wednesday attack the shooter’s girlfriend called 911 to report that she was worried about his unstable behavior.
The woman called at about 10 p.m. Tuesday to say Alexander Bonds “was paranoid and acting erratically,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. Officers were dispatched to look for Bonds on the streets of a Bronx neighborhood, but the 34-year-old ex-convict evaded them, police said.
At about 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Bonds walked up to an RV-like mobile command unit several blocks north of where police had searched for him and fired a shot through a passenger-side window, striking and killing Officer Miosotis Familia. Two other officers later shot Bonds to death.
Boyce said the girlfriend told police that she had taken Bonds for a psychiatric evaluation on July 1 but he was released after about an hour. Investigators who are trying to determine a motive for the killing also found antidepressant and anti-psychotic medications in his apartment.
St. Barnabas Hospital said it welcomes any investigation and will fully cooperate.
“We believe all mental health procedures and safeguards were properly followed in the hospital’s evaluation of Mr. Bond during the 7 to 8-hour period he was observed in our emergency room on July 1,” hospital spokesman Steven Clark said in a statement, which incorrectly referred to the killer as Bond, not Bonds.
Last year, Bonds ranted in a Facebook video about law officers killing and abusing people and warned them to leave him alone or “we gonna do something.”
“I’m not playing, Mr. Officer. I don’t care about 100 police watching this,” Bonds said, adding: “It’s time for people to wisen up.”
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Familia “is dead for one reason and one reason only and that is Alexander Bonds and his hatred of police.”