A Black woman, who was irresponsibly and unnecessarily taken to a mental health facility, held against her will, misdiagnosed and “treated” for eight days, will finally have her day on court. The trial began on Monday.
Long Island professional banker, Kamilah Brock, was driving her 2003 BMW 325Cl through the streets of Harlem as she had done on most days. According to her account, Brock was stopped by a New York City police officer because she was suspected of being high on marijuana, even though no drugs were found in her vehicle, which was confiscated during the incident. That was brought on by her being stopped at a red light, dancing to the music which was playing in her car.
Brock was then taken into custody and driven to the 30th Precinct. She was held for several hours and finally released with no charges being filed. That interaction alone was enough for the successful banker to file a complaint.
However, her nightmare was just starting. The police told her to retrieve her car the following day. Apparently, the police didn’t believe that a Black woman could drive a then 10-year-old BMW. She returned, and instead of being given her vehicle and an apology, Brock was then handcuffed and placed in an ambulance without any explanation. All the while, she still believed she was going to pick up her car, although EMS’ presence didn’t seem logical to her.
At that moment, the police had instituted what is known as Kendra’s Law, a New York State law concerning involuntary outpatient commitment. Brock had no history of mental illness or any other incidences where the police should have made that call.
Because of the incompetence and blatant disregard for Brock’s well-being, she was subjected to eight days of being poked and prodded, given psychotropic drugs like lithium and misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder while at Harlem Hospital, which is a part of the Columbia University Medical system.
According to her medical records, she attempted to explain who she was and even told them that former President Barack Obama followed her on Twitter. All of these things were easily verifiable but not one person took the time to do so.
Instead, she was given a protocol of treatment, which stated: “A master treatment plan with an objective: Patient will verbalize the importance of education for employment and will state that Obama is not following her on Twitter.”
It also noted “patient’s weaknesses: inability to test reality, unemployment.”
Brock was eventually released and filed a suit against the NYPD, the state and the hospital who detained her against her will. She was also sent a $13K bill for “treatment” that she didn’t need in the first place.
This was a gross misuse of authority, which probably would have not have gone this far had Brock been white.
As her trial starts, it’s important to note that a study from 2009 by Healthaffairs.org indicated that there was evidence of racial disparities among people, who were involuntarily admitted to mental health facilities under the law.
“Between 1999 and 2008, 35 percent of those with outpatient commitment orders have been African Americans, who make up 17 percent of the state’s population, while 33 percent of the people on outpatient commitment have been whites, who make up 61 percent of the population. This has raised difficult questions: Does black New Yorkers’ substantial overrepresentation amount to a true “disparity” Is outpatient commitment being applied fairly”
Even the New York Times wrote about what seemed to be racial inequalities in the application of Kendra’s Law.
Her case along with racial bias was brought up in The Michigan Journal of Race and Law in 2015.