The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Man who allegedly ran down Kearns students considered for mental health court

Here’s an article that leaves me wondering.  I fully believe that mental health court is both positive and necessary.  I think that, although we are all accountable for our actions, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that need to be considered.

This describes a sad and avoidable situation by a person who obviously was distressed, but who chose to act in a dangerous and aggressive way which involved innocent people.   According to this article, this man was depressed and frustrated and suffers from poor eyesight.  None of these conditions naturally leads to driving your car into a crowd of youths.  I do believe this man needs help, but I do not think he should be exempt from the consequences for his actions.

I am afraid that  a precedent could be set here that would allow the mental health court to be twisted and used in ways never intended.  I will be watching this story closely and I hope you will also watch what is happening with this story.


The Salt Lake Tribune

Updated: 05/14/2010 07:36:58 PM MDT

A 51-year-old man accused of deliberately running down a number of Kearns Junior High students last year is being considered as a candidate for mental health court.

Luka Wall Kang is charged in 3rd District Court with 12 counts of aggravated assault — six counts for students either struck or touched by the car and six counts for students who narrowly avoided being hit along 4015 West near 5600 South on May 6. Each count is a third-degree felony carrying the potential of a zero-to-five-year prison term.

But if Kang’s case is moved to mental health court, the focus will shift away from incarceration toward treatment with medication, counseling and monitoring. Mental health court defendants must stay on their medication, attend therapy and counseling for addictions, complete community service requirements and attend        weekly court hearings.

Prosecutor Sandi Johnson said Friday it was unclear what type of mental illness Kang may have.

A number of students testified last year during a preliminary hearing that they were walking on a sidewalk after school when they saw Kang’s white car barreling down the sidewalk toward them.

Keily Spendlove, 14, testified she jumped out of the way by pushing off the car with one hand as it flew past and then accelerated toward a group of other students.

Seconds later, Spendlove said, “I saw bodies flying up into the air, shoes flying up, and cell phones flying all over.”

Four other witnesses also testified the car sped up after hitting the first two victims.

No one was seriously injured, although three boys were treated for scrapes and bruises at a hospital. One of them was knocked unconscious.

Investigators have said they believe Kang purposely aimed his car at the students. No reason for Kang’s alleged behavior was given during the hearing.

However, the day before the episode, Kang — a refugee from Sudan who is now an American citizen — had expressed during a bus ride that he was depressed and frustrated with his new life, according to Bill Anderson of South Salt Lake, who later reported the encounter to The Tribune .

Another explanation came from a friend of Kang’s, Gak Dhol, who has told The Tribune that Kang suffers from bad eyesight because of an industrial accident.

A four-day trial scheduled to begin next week has been canceled. A status hearing is set for June 25 before Judge Deno HImonas.

Here is the link to the original article with many comments

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May 26, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , ,

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shirley Williams, Shirley Williams. Shirley Williams said: Man who allegedly ran down Kearns students considered for mental health court: […]

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