New York Daily News

July 6, 2017, 5:28 PM



EDITORIAL: Out through the ER door: How the system failed Alexander Bonds

By Editorial Board

Bonds, broken (Facebook)The warning sirens of a mental health system fatally broken sounded with every ambulance sent to retrieve a wounded, perhaps dying victim.

A tourist doing yoga in Bryant Park. A chef awaiting a subway train at Times Square. Two children stabbed in an elevator after playing downstairs.

Each time, a city plugged its ears and went about its business, in denial and disgrace.

This time, jarring a night of Independence Day revelry, the victim was a protector, a mother, a hero, Police Officer Miosotis Familia, murdered by a man out of his mind with schizophrenia just days after a revolving-door discharge from a hospital where he’d sought psychiatric care.

This time, the complacency must stop for good.

Familia fell victim, yes, to a .38 caliber bullet fired from a stolen Ruger and, yes also, to frenzied anti-police rhetoric following fatal encounters between civilians and cops.

But in declaring that “Officer Familia is dead for one reason and one reason only, and that is Alexander Bonds and his hatred of police,” Police Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill suppressed mention of the flame that lit the fuse.

The brain chemistry of her cold predator, Alexander Bonds, was scrambled so severely that according to his girlfriend he had for weeks behaved erratically, at one point threatening to kill. His social media posts and criminal history suggested an animus to cops in particular.

Officer Familia — and Bonds, too, shot dead by police — was failed by fairy-tale belief that prescriptions for pills will suffice to treat deep and destructive mental illness, in lieu of inpatient psychiatric treatment whose availability dwindles in New York by the year.

So distraught did Bonds’ girlfriend become that she brought Bonds to the emergency room at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, where a psychiatrist gave Bonds a one-hour once over last Saturday, then sent him on his way.

In the clinical phrasing of a hospital spokesman: “He was evaluated. He was composed. He was discharged.”

Just three nights after doctors gave Bonds a clean-enough bill of mental health, his girlfriend called 911 pleading for police to track down her paranoid partner as he roamed Bronx streets.

His case in the horror of hindsight appears ripe for involuntary psychiatric commitment, as allowed when an individual poses a substantial risk of harm to themselves or others — whether to a hospital bed or outpatient treatment under Kendra’s Law.

Gov. Cuomo has correctly instructed his Departmentof Health and Office of Mental Health to immediately review how St. Barnabas handled the case.

Bonds did not want for anti-psychotic drug prescriptions. He needed supervised medical treatment.

Instead, he got mental health care by cop — first as their quarry in a desperate search the Bronx over, and then, in tragic reversal, turning from hunted to hunter, seeking a cop to kill before falling himself in a hail of police bullets.

Turning away such patients as too healthy does them no favors. Neither does eliminating state psychiatric hospital beds, leaving too few to properly care for the deeply sick.

State, city and private hospitals must together fix the failed system. Push the limits of the law to get care to the mentally ill. Do not allow Miosotis Familia to have died in vain.