Friend of suspect killed by police claims he was suffering from mental illness

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 11:36 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A close friend of the man killed by police Monday morning said the suspect grappled with mental illness.

Michael Clifton was fatally shot by Toledo Police and Michigan State Police after a police chase and standoff Monday morning.

Clifton’s wife asked her best friend to talk to 13abc, who is speaking out on the condition of anonymity. She wanted to clear up rumors and said Clifton was ill.

“He had just lost his son in March, and since the death of his son, he’s been struggling with mental health,” said a family friend.

A close friend of Clifton says the 50-year-old man was having a mental health crisis before the police chase. He allegedly fired one round in the parking lot of the Monroe movie theater.

“(His wife)kept telling him, ‘Mike just go home. We’re on our way home just go home.’ That’s when he reached behind the seat,” the family friend said. “She knew where he kept his gun, and she just told her son to run back to the theater because she just had that intuition it wasn’t right.”

The friend said the rumors that Clifton shot up the movie theater are not true. She went on to say Clifton’s wife thought he shot himself.

“She didn’t turn around, she just went in the movie theater and that’s when she called 911,” the family friend said.

Clifton led police on a high-speed chase. It ended in Toledo with Clifton hitting two parked cars in the Old West End.

Police said he got out of his truck with a gun to his head. Surveillance video captured him walking down Bancroft armed, with multiple officers following him. Police said officers negotiated with him for 18 minutes, trying to get him to put the gun down.

Authorities said he pointed the gun at the officers, and that’s when he was shot and killed by police.

“I don’t blame the police at all because they have to go home to their families, too,” the friend said.

The friend said Michael got married two months ago. His close friend misses him dearly.

“It’s tragic for everybody,” she said. “It’s tragic for the city. He owned his own shop. He helped people out with their vehicles.”

She said the family reached out for help for his mental illness.

“The whole situation could have really been prevented when she was asking to get help for him, if they were provided the mental health help that he needed,” the family friend said. “He’s not a monster, he was not a monster. He was the sweetest person you would ever meet.”

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