These mental health crises ended in fatal police encounters. Now, some communities are trying a new approach

Updated 5:05 AM ET, Sat October 10, 2020

(CNN)When Miles Hall's hallucinations and erratic behavior returned, his mother did what she had always done: She gave police a heads up.

The next day, June 2, 2019, Walnut Creek, California, police responded to multiple 911 calls about Hall, 23, who was having a mental health episode and roaming around his neighborhood.
Five officers responded to the scene. Police say Hall was holding a pry bar -- a tool, his mother says, that a neighbor had given him for gardening -- and ran in their direction. After attempting to stop him with beanbag rounds, police fired at Hall. He died shortly after.
More than three months later, in a small Virginia community, Henrico County police responded to a welfare check requested by Gay Ellen Plack's psychiatrist. Plack, 57, was bipolar and "doing bizarre stuff," the psychiatrist said, and hadn't picked up her phone that day, according to a report by the Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney.
Two officers went to Plack's home and she hid inside a bathroom in a locked bedroom. The officers breached the bedroom door and approached the bathroom and Plack came out with an axe -- a camping tool she had recently purchased, according to her brother. Within seconds, both officers fired. Plack was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
"I was just completely, completely shocked," her brother, Bob Bostock, says. "I couldn't believe that in her own home, she had been shot dead when she was minding her own business, not bothering anybody."
Hall and Plack belong to a list of Americans whose mental health breakdowns cost them their lives.
Last year, a former Georgia police officer was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison for killing a 26-year-old mentally ill Black veteran. In March, 41-year-old Daniel Prude was declared brain dead and died a week after his brother called Rochester, New York, police to report he was having a mental health episode. And four Houston officers were fired last month after the fatal shooting of an emotionally disturbed man who was on the ground and wounded.