Paul Castaway, left, was shot and killed by Denver police on Sunday. Now his family is demanding justice for his death.

Police Shoot, Kill Mentally Ill Native American Man; Family Demands Justice

Simon Moya-Smith

As many as 100 people marched through the streets of Denver on Tuesday to protest the death of a mentally ill Native American man who was shot multiple times by police late Sunday.

A Denver police officer, whose name has not been released, shot Paul Castaway, 35, four times in the torso after officers said Castaway had gotten “dangerously close” with a knife, The Denver Post reported.

Lynn Eagle Feather, center, weeps over the loss of her son, 35-year-old Paul Castaway, who was shot and killed by police on Sunday. A rally of as many as 100 people gathered outside Denver Police headquarters on Tuesday to protest his death. Photo courtesy Tessa McLean.

Castaway’s mother, Lynn Eagle Feather, who is Sicangu Lakota, told ICTMN that she had called the police on Sunday because her son, who suffered from schizophrenia, was experiencing an episode that evening, and that she sought help getting him back under control. Eagle Feather said she told the 9-1-1 operator that her son was mentally ill.

According to police, Castaway had charged at them with a long knife, but security video at nearby Capital City Mobile Home Park tells a different story.

Eagle Feather said she was able to watch the video, which shows her son holding the knife to his neck when police opened fire. A Denver Fox News affiliate KDVR reporter also viewed the video and confirmed that Castaway did not charge police with the knife while aiming it at them.

Eagle Feather said she was on her porch across the street when she heard gun shots. “It was rapid fire – boom, boom, boom, boom. I didn’t hear no warning,” she said. Eagle Feather told KDVR that she regrets calling the police for help.

Tuesday’s march was preceded by a rally outside the Denver Police Department headquarters where members of the American Indian Movement Colorado chapter and supporters shouted, “Justice for Paul!” Supporters arrived wearing T-shirts reading, “What’s wrong with you guys?” – which, according to witnesses, were Castaway’s last dying words.

A man wears a T-shirt with what witnesses said were Paul Castaway's last dying words: "What's wrong with you guys?"

“There was no need to shoot my son four times at close range like that,” Eagle Feather said. She said she’s “very hopeful” that there will be justice for her son “because this isn’t right.”

“I want justice because my son didn’t need to be murdered. He had the knife to his own neck. I want justice for my son. I want those cops to be reprimanded. These Denver cops love to kill Natives. They love to kill people of color here,” Eagle Feather said.

A study released last August by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice reported that Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other racial group.

Police also alleged that Castaway had stabbed his mother in the neck. Eagle Feather adamantly disputes this claim.

Castaway leaves behind a 3-year-old son who was asking for his father on Sunday, Eagle Feather said.

“He was a good person. He had a big heart. He had a lot of friends. He’s going to be missed dearly by his family and his son. That’s his only son,” Eagle Feather said, holding back tears.

There was a large police presence in Denver on Tuesday night as protesters rallied and marched against police brutality. Paul Castaway, a 35-year-old Native American man, was shot and killed by police on Sunday. Photo courtesy Tessa McLean.

The officer who shot and killed Castaway was placed on administrative leave per department protocol.

Reporter Noelle Phillips of The Denver Post reported that two people were arrested during Tuesday night’s march – one for disobeying a lawful order and the other for interference in a roadway.

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