Va. sheriffs express concern after Creigh Deeds’ ‘60 Minutes’ interview

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR/CNN) — Creigh Deeds remembers turning his back just before his son attacked him, stabbing the Virginia state senator multiple times.

Deeds had gone out to the barn to feed the horses. His son, Austin “Gus” Deeds, came across the yard.

“I said, ‘Hey bud, how’d you sleep?’ He said, ‘fine.’ I turned my back … and he was just on me,” Deeds told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired Sunday night.

“I said, ‘Gus, I love you so much.’ I said, ‘Don’t make this any worse than it is.’ He just kept coming at me.”

Less than 24 hours before the November 19 stabbing, Deeds’ son had undergone an evaluation by mental health professionals while he was under an emergency custody order.

Officials reportedly had to release Gus, 24, because no psychiatric bed was available and an individual could only be held under emergency custody for up to six hours.

“The system failed my son,” Deeds said he told a representative of the county agency that manages mental health care.

“I was concerned that if he came home there was going to be a crisis,” Deeds told “60 Minutes.”

That night, Deeds and his son sat at opposite ends of a dining room table at the residence in Millboro. Deeds ate while Gus wrote furiously in his journal.

“I felt like there’d be a confrontation but I didn’t, I had no reason to think there’d be violence,” Deeds said.

The next morning, Gus stabbed his father in the chest and head. He then turned a gun on himself and died.

Deeds still bears scars on his face. In spite of the attack, he told “60 Minutes” that Gus was a “great kid . … perfect son.”

He said he hopes that his son is not defined by his illness and that his life will have a positive impact.

The Democratic lawmaker has introduced legislation that targets mental health services in the commonwealth.

His agenda for the 2014 session includes proposals that would create a psychiatric bed registry and expand the time limit for emergency custody orders to 24 hours.

“I want people to remember the brilliant, friendly, loving kid that was Gus Deeds,” his father said.

“We’ll use Gus, I hope, to address mental health and to make sure that other people don’t have to suffer through this.”

But Virginia Sheriffs are raising concern about one particular change suggested by Deeds.

“Other states have 24 hours but other states have psychiatric beds,” John Jones, Executive Director of the Virginia Sheriffs Association said.

“In Virginia, we don’t have beds so the deputy sheriffs sit with these patients,” Jones added.

Jones told CBS 6 that if Deeds legislation passes for 24 hour detention it would be a huge burden on law enforcement – impacting public safety.

“We have to compromise,” Jones added.

Jones said Virginia Sheriffs would favor a proposal to lengthen the detention time to 8 hours.

Deeds bill has cleared one committee so far this General Assembly session.

Click here to watch the complete interview with Creigh Deeds. 

34 comments

  • Jackie Rawlings

    Virginia Governor and State lawmakers refused all funding from Obama for the health care and mental needs of the people. For years many people died from lack of health care. Many mentally ill people have died with the State ignoring the problem. But once Senator Deeds son was turned away and attacked his father and killed himself the State paid attention. Had this not happen to Senator Deeds nothing would be done or discussed. Now Governor McDonnell quickly went to Senator Deeds because there will be a large lawsuit against the State. Other Republican Governors have done nothing to help the mentally ill even reducing the current funding and refusing Obama. Sad to see Republicans/Tea Party leaders care so little about the most needy citizens but only look for their votes. So many people spoke out after Senator Deeds case and these lawmakers should be a shame of themselves.

      • Katrina Milburn

        Seriously people who just want to add immature and ignorant comments such as “blah blah black go cry in a pillow” need to get a hobby and stop making a fool out of themselves. This is a very serious issue and if you don’t care about it then why are you commenting at all. This is pure ignorance

    • Tommy Owens

      Don’t make this a republican vs democrat thing. The short truth to this is that all politicians have ignored the mentally ill. There is no money in it for profit like there is for prisons. If they took the time to take care of the mentally ill, 50% or more of the violence we see now probably wouldn’t be happening and the discussion would be about quality of life for these people instead of gun violence.

    • Manalishi

      Silly goose, The state will claim sovereign immunity through the courts just like they did with the VA tech failure. The system is way too big and mismanaged to work. Most hospitals have a psyc ward for immediate threats.

  • RK

    WOW!!! The state and health officials just noticed this when it was a senator’s son!!! I feel bad for the people who have already been through this, and not one head turned to see the problem. You put senator in front of a name and all of a sudden things get rolling, and laws get reviewed and changed.

    • Katrina Milburn

      You’re right, I’m fortunate to have an incredible community service board NRVCS , in Blacksburg. I will be sharing my story to show my support and advocate how important a strong mental health system not only benefits the individual but society as a whole !

  • nancy b

    My guess is that if the bill passes and mandatory hold peiod increases to 24 hours that the problem with a lack of beds will somehow be worked out as well by the Va Sherrif’s.

  • daniel

    Your son was probably right. You probably are evil. The goverment constantly does things that seem criminal. The goverment in my city committed multiple felony crimes and Judges and the Attorney Generals office just cover it up. Refuse to prosecute even thought there is so much evidence

      • Dustin Cavanaugh

        Once again, nice argument. Anything intelligent to add? None of that existed in your last post. Also my bigger concern with this article is that the sheriffs are complaining about having to figure out how to do their job better.

  • daniel

    Your actions and the actions of the goverment are what young people see. They see that there is no honesty, or integrity, or morals, in goverment. President Clinton should of been impeached years back for being a pig, the White House is not a frat house. That would of set a presidence that to hold the highest office in the land you must be worthy of it.

  • Misty Soyars Dooley

    We had a small local facility at our local community hospital for mental health patients and for holds for those that were a threat to harm theirselves or others…but…they closed it. VA should definitely have a 24 hour hold on mental health patients at the very least….instead of deputies sitting with the patients they could have prison guards on call for these situations to be there to sit with the patient instead.

  • Ginger

    Currently fighting mental illness. It is a battle. Had to reach out. Luckily where I live, have always been able to access help. Also, I have insurance. Please let’s try to help others. It’s more prevalent than most people realize.

    • Dustin Cavanaugh

      There is no reaching out until it is too late. This is a perfect example. Ignore all warnings until you are a victim. If this had happened to any of these sheriffs I guarantee they would be singing a different tune. Nothing ever got accomplished by simply telling someone. Action is always ultimately necessary.

  • scungy

    Another part of this issue should be the fact that treatment facilities will not notify law enforcement if there is a “wanted subject” being cared for in their facility. Nor will these facilities notify law enforcement when these subjects are due to be released from their care. So if I am a “wanted felon” I can go hide out there for awhile and then leave when I wish!

  • Larz

    I wonder if anyone asked what medications his son was on… and what are the side effects of those medications ? violent behavior is usually on the long list of side effects for many anti depressants.. but I guess we’re not allowed to talk about that, so lets blame the hospital and make them have more beds.. I’m sure that will solve the problem.

  • Rk76

    How about other other states opening up their empty beds to emergency patients that need medical attention right away. I know that Northern VA could be placed in DC and Maryland that have empty beds. Why couldnt he be sent to NC? WV? DMV? 6 hour holds are simply not enough if someone is showing a melt down.
    Here in DC they have 48-72 holds for mental patients. I have a few mental ill family members and when they have a melt down, It is awlful to sit there and watch them go through it. Not knowing what they are thinking and what they could do. I know we can not make the mentally ill take their meds, but you can keep them somewhere that has a bed until the melt down is over and they come to their senses.

    • janedoe

      Just to be clear an ECO is an Emergency Custody Order. And in most all states that only people that can take out ECOs are police officers. An ECO is issued when the police are taking you into custody, but you have not committed a crime. They are taking you into custody to ensure your safety. The 48 hour hold in DC is not an ECO it is a TDO. A TDO is a Temporary Detaining Order. TDOs are given when you are a danger to yourself or others in the community. You have no rights when you are TDOed. Like and ECO an the police only a licensed mental health professional can order a TDO. TDOs generally last 48 to 72 hours because you have no rights at the time and can only be extended by a judge! ECOs are not meant to be long and drawn out but a police officer needs to there at all times because the person is in their custody. The purpose of an ECO is the waiting period to either be TDOed or not. You can not be TDOed if no beds are available.

  • James

    We used to keep the mentally ill in institutions, but that was seen as inhumane. So we removed them from the institutes. Unfortunately, many do not take care of themselves and do not keep up the treatments they were forced to go through in the institutes. So they ended up in hospitals or jails. Now we know jail is not the right place for them and so the only place they can go are hospitals that are not meant for long term care and do not have the capacity to handle the number of people needing assistance. So they get released as soon as treatments show improvement and come back when they stop caring for themselves again. We have replaced the institutes with revolving door hospitals, supplied with psych patients arriving constantly by ambulance, police car or walking in on their own. This is a direct cause of this case, where a person needing short term attention, because he had a structured home to return to, was unable to receive treatment.

  • Romaine Cheney

    Many, for years, have advocated for those when it comes to mental health. While I have sympathy for the loss of Creigh Deeds’ son and his own recovery, I find it truly sad that once a favorite state senator is the victim, THEN there’s a push for mental health awareness. This was hardly the only case last year that greatly affected families!!

  • Becky

    Conveniently skirting the facts that beds were available, especially for
    a man of means, privilege, political pull, with a close knowledge of his son prior to this incident.
    JFK legislated Community Mental Health Care.
    Obama reinvigorated it through his DOJ to attack Virginia, again.
    The seated “Law Makers” decided their own priorities, their own budgets,
    the own agendas, allowing very little citizen say until needed to USE
    them traditionally through emoting.
    This has now turned into another Political 3-Ring Circus of using
    crisis to forward “current” agendas: Political Stages, Media Stages,
    and Using the targeted audience though sensationalized, highly emotionalized political art antics and infomercials to elicit their known,
    prompted, relied upon Response to their feedings and fertilizing..

    • Becky

      Now it is also customary for the “Law Makers” to bemoan that the jails
      house many mentally ill, as the political courts have Decided. The Courts catch/release/repeat MO doesn’t add any confidence in hiring or
      in Public Safety on the mean, dangerous, and deadly streets.
      Emotionalized Blackmail to Correct Governance is Repugnant and
      Irresponsible..

      • Dustin Cavanaugh

        So is speaking on what you don’t know Becky. Take a hint. Stop with the baseless assumptions that aren’t relevant to reality.

  • Dustin Cavanaugh

    The problem is people don’t know how to do their job. Beds were available but the person looking didn’t find them because he/she didn’t bother to check everywhere because he/she did not take their job and the situation seriously enough. This isn’t an assumption since we know it was a fact beds were available and we know as a fact those hospitals were not contacted.

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