Family of woman shot by APD speaks out about UNM mental health treatment

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The family of a young woman shot by Albuquerque Police last week is speaking out. The Sudlows are voicing frustration and anger with UNM’s Psychiatric Care Center and its consistent admittance and quick release of Danielle, despite her clearly needing help.

Diane Sudlow, the mom of Danielle, and Danielle’s sister, Charlotte, sat down with KRQE News 13 Wednesday.

“She struggled with bipolar disorder,” Diane said. “Anger, frustration, and then she’s very motivated and plans all kinds of things. And then she gets depressed and can’t cope with it.”

Danielle’s mental health problems have been ongoing for years, the Sudlows say. Danielle has threatened jumping from overpasses and tried overdosing. She’s had multiple run-ins with law enforcement prior to Tuesday of last week.

Diane said on the Friday before the shooting, Danielle was admitted to UNM’s Psychiatric Car Center.

“[But] they made her leave Saturday morning. So, then Saturday night she had an altercation with the police and they took her back to the hospital,” Diane said.

Tuesday night, Danielle was forced to leave again. Within an hour after her release, however, Danielle was shot by APD officers after she called 911 saying she wanted to hurt herself and others, threatening suicide by cop. Police confronted her near Rainbow and Irving, on the outskirts of her Ventana Ranch neighborhood.

“She came out immediately out of that car, with an overt action with that weapon in her hand… she was struck in the knee with a rifle round,” Officer Simon Drobik said in a news briefing the next day.

The family doesn’t fault police for the shooting and said they were not shocked by it.

“On that Tuesday she was released from the hospital, the police had gone to the hospital and asked them to please keep her… because they knew she was not in a safe state of mind,” Diane said.

The Sudlows are, however, angry with UNM and how Danielle has been treated in its mental health services department.

“They do nothing to help her except drug her for a day or two and then put her out, even though she’s not OK when they tell her to leave,” Diane said.

“…And that’s usually when she kind of goes off the deep end,” Charlotte explained.

“She wants to stay,” Diane said.

Diane and Charlotte described Danielle as a sweet, loving girl who struggles with something very serious. They know she wants help fighting this ugly problem.

Now, Danielle is charged with five counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer and will be booked into jail once she’s released from the hospital. The Sudlows say at this point, they hope she will get better help behind bars than she’s received from UNM. They have not spoken to her since the day of the shooting.

As to why Danielle is continually admitted and released from the psychiatric center, Diane said it’s because the center is only for critical care.

“If they’re a critical care facility, then they need to find a way to place these people somewhere or offer them options or offer them some sort of something,” Diane said.

Diane said the facility has no suggestions for family on what to do in this situation.

A local representative with the National Alliance on Mental Illness told KRQE News 13 there are not enough long term mental health facilities in our state.

KRQE News 13 reached out to UNM for more information on Danielle and this situation, but were told this falls under HIPPA protections. The Sudlows say they face that same problem when they inquire about Danielle and getting her help, because she’s over 18.

Diane said when it comes to options like power of attorney, that’s extremely tough. Danielle has to agree to it, for one. Diane also said it expires and can be voided at any time if Danielle appears to be in a sound state of mind.

KRQE News 13 also asked UNM for clarity on the psychiatric care center’s general procedures and as to what state law allows them to do when treating mental health patients, but did not hear back.

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