‘He didn't get help. He got shot,’ Maine family shares story about son killed by officer
WINTERPORT (WGME) -- For the first time a Maine family is sharing their story and talking about the night their son was shot and killed by a police officer.
“Sometimes when I look at it I feel like I could reach out and brush the hair out of his eyes,” Lauri Arrigoni, Cameron’s mom, said.
The paintings and pictures are reminders of what life used to be like and what's now missing in the Arrigoni family.
“There's a big hole right in the middle of our embraces,” Lauri said.
Lauri, Chuck and Marissa sat down with CBS 13 to share their story.
“It's hard to live with. I can't… it's very difficult,”Lauri said.
For the first time, they're talking about the night their son and brother, Cameron, was shot and killed by a police officer.
They say to fully understand what happened. It's important to understand Cameron.
“He brought joy into our lives, our very first baby,” Lauri said.
They describe him as a gentle soul who was extremely creative.
He played piano, learning tunes by ear.
He would often spend hours upon hours tweaking videos, some have hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
“He would work and work and work and work until he would get it just right and I mean days and days, weeks sometimes,” Lauri said.
Cameron had Asperger’s and dealt with depression.
“Cam was self-medicating at the time and it had been a couple of months, a few months that we could see him going downhill and we couldn't get through to him that self-medication wasn't the way to go,” Lauri said.
On the night of June 9, 2013, Cameron had been drinking, had a gun and was threatening suicide. His girlfriend was trying to get him help.
“I know how bad the situation looks, but when you really think about it, he was just a suicidal person and that's who you expect to help you. You expect to call 911 and get help,” Marissa Arrigoni, Cameron’s sister, said.
Two Hampden police officers responded to the apartment Cameron shared with his girlfriend.
According to the Maine attorney general's report, they heard shouting and entered the apartment.
Police say Cameron turned the gun on the officers. They shot him twice and Cameron died at the hospital.
“It’s just who you are now. We're members of a club that is the most horrendous club on earth and that's the parents who have lost a child,” Lauri said.
The Arrigoni's don't believe Cameron would have turned the gun on the officers and question the police response. They wonder if there would have been a different outcome had they or a crisis team been there that night.
“It makes me sick that it was a cry for help and he didn't get help. He got shot. I feel that if there was a crisis team or someone was able to get him to a hospital or any sort of mental health professional they could have talked him down from it,” Marissa said.
They say they know they're not alone, that mental health plays a role in shootings across the country.
According to research conducted by the Treatment Advocacy Center in Virginia, a minimum of 1 in every 4 fatal police encounters involves someone with a severe mental illness.
The Arrigoni's say that has to change.
“Mental health conditions need to be recognized and treated properly and I don't believe we have those resources in place. And that would be a big step.
They hope sharing their story may raise some questions about training and response for cases like Cameron’s.
“Things need to change and hopefully we can help make a change for the better so no other family, no other lives are shattered in the way our lives were shattered,” Lauri said.
The Maine Attorney General's Office found the officers involved in Cameron’s shooting legally justified, which has been true for every officer involved shooting case in Maine.
CBS 13 reached out to the Hampden Police Department regarding the case. They said they have no comment.