Officer who pulled gun on teens had history of mental illness

by: Jodie Fleischer Updated:

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has learned a DeKalb County police officer who pulled a gun on a group of teens, had remained on the job for decades despite serious mental health problems.
 
Detective Scott Biumi resigned shortly after the incident in April 2013 and pleaded guilty in December.
 
He told the judge he “just snapped” when he threatened the teens at a Forsyth County McDonald's drive-thru. The judge sentenced him to 10 years on probation and no jail time.
 
"If it was me who pulled a gun on somebody, I would be in jail right now," Ryan Mash told Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer.
 
Mash said he was sitting behind the wheel of his pickup truck, waiting on a food order, when he was suddenly staring down the barrel of Biumi's gun.
 
"I was terrified," Mash remembered. "The second I saw the gun I blacked out."
 
Surveillance video captured Biumi, then a 25-year veteran of DeKalb Police, confronting the teens with his county-issued weapon after waiting a long time for his food order.
 
He said he thought the teens were just chatting with McDonald's employees and delaying the drive-thru line.
 
"He goes, 'There are some crazy people in this world. You never know who you're messing with,' and that's when he put the gun in my face," Mash said.
 
Biumi was arrested.  He lost his job and his police certification.
 
During his plea hearing, the former detective told the judge of his 25-year battle with mental illness, including major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress, major anxiety disorder and suicidal tendencies. He said his treatment included serious medications and even electroshock therapy.
 
"Someone who disassociates themselves from the reality of the circumstance is a person you give a gun and expect to enforce the laws? I mean it's disturbing to say the least," said Mash's attorney, Mark Bullman,
 
Bullman said Biumi's history of mental illness should have kept him from being an officer, despite his exemplary police record with zero complaints of excessive force.
 
"I believe the county bears a significant responsibility," Bullman said.
 
DeKalb County Police Department policy requires all officers to report any prescription medicines they are taking and their diagnosed illness to a supervisor immediately.
 
DeKalb police records contain no indication Biumi ever shared those specifics. He did, however, submit a resignation letter back in 2006, but promptly withdrew it before it took effect.
 
His personnel file contains a doctor's note from his psychiatrist; stating Biumi's medications "do not impair his judgment and should not affect his ability to do his job."
 
"We have no reason to believe at this point that anyone at command level read that memo," said DeKalb County Public Safety Director Cedric Alexander. The note was received years prior to Alexander's tenure with the department.
 
Biumi's resignation letter, and the one withdrawing the resignation both contain stamps showing they were received; they also carry signatures from his chain of command.
 
The doctor's note contains no stamps or a signature, possibly indicating it was placed in Biumi's personnel folder without being forwarded to a commanding officer.
 
"I can only assume if they were to see a letter that suggested that those types of mental health conditions were present in that person, then they would have explored a little bit more," Alexander said.
 
With a doctorate in clinical psychology, Alexander said he might have sent Biumi for an independent evaluation if there were more clues that he was suffering from mental illness. His performance with the department had been stellar, Alexander said.
 
Fleischer spoke off camera with two additional officers in Biumi's chain of command; neither recalled seeing the doctor's note or being aware that he suffered from mental health problems.
 
"You'll agree that there are some mental health conditions from which a person [suffering] should not be police officer or have a gun?" Fleischer asked Alexander.
 
"Absolutely," Alexander replied. "All we can do is be hopeful they will report it as they are required to by the policy."
 
Mash believes a stressful law enforcement career is not the place for people with severe mental illnesses.
 
"They're not in the right mindset to be out there with a gun," Mash said. "They can make bad judgment [calls] like Mr. Biumi, He made bad judgment and pulled a gun on me for no reason."
 
Biumi's attorney declined to comment, citing the likelihood a civil lawsuit would be filed.



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