On Tuesday, November 13, 2012 Rochester, NY Police Sgt. Mark Simmons will be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.
Emails, texts and messages on facebook went out congratulating Simmons on his promotion.
And, once again the Rochester, NY Police department, and current RPD Chief James Sheppard, continue a long practiced ‘Good ol’ boys club’ way of rewarding problem officers with promotions.
While many Rochester, NY residents have extremely short-term memories, others don’t.
I would put myself in the latter category.
A very sensitive subject for me.
In 1993, my Dad Mario Vara committed suicide in his bedroom, while me and my mom were downstairs.
Contrary to what people say, that things get better with time, they don’t.
Not a day passes by when I don’t remember that day.
I can still hear the loud gunshot.
I often think what if anything I could have done to stop my Dad from doing what he did.
Which brings me to Mark Simmons.
On July 10, 2005, 13-year old LaShedica Mason was suicidal, when she locked herself up in the bathroom of her home on St. Jacob Street on Rochester’s eastside.
Her relatives called 911 for assistance.
Minutes later, Rochester Police officer Mark Simmons entered the home and as soon as he saw Mason holding a knife, he shot the 13 year old girl three times, including once in her abdomen.
As a result of her injuries, LaShedica’s gall bladder, as well as several feet of her intestines had to be removed during surgery.
Ironically, just days before the shooting, acting Rochester Police Chief Cedric Alexander had announced the creation of the Rochester Police Department’s Emotionally Disturbed Persons Response Team (EDPRT) a team specially trained to deal with despondent, suicidal, and emotionally unstable individuals.
In fact, the team was developed, specifically for people just like LaShedica.
So why then, was a suicidal teen shot multiple times by a trigger-happy cop?
Where was this crisis intervention team who were trained to deal with situations like this?
Nowhere to be found.
They were never deployed.
Instead, a trigger-happy young RPD cop named Mark Simmons went Rambo, opening fire and trying to kill a young, suicidal girl who needed help.
Mark Simmons tried his best to kill young LaShedica.
Simmons shot the 13-year old in what police refer to as ‘center mass.’
It is that part of the body just below the neck and above the waist.
Police know that by shooting at this area of the body, the shots will most likely be fatal, and by shooting a young girl three times, Mark Simmons’ intentions were clear: Shoot to kill.
Not long after shooting LaShedica, Mark Simmons was promoted to the rank of Sgt., and, until recently, was Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard’s right hand man.
This latest promotion of Simmons by the RPD, will be the second of his approx. 9-year career with the department.
I often think of LaShedica.
I think of how bad one must feel to want to end one’s life, like my Dad did.
It has to be an unimaginable pain.
And then I think on top of how bad LaShedica was feeling, locked in that bathroom, holding a knife, contemplating ending her life, what she must have felt seeing RPD officer Mark Simmons, not there to help her, but instead trying his best to kill her himself.
I wonder if on Tuesday, in that ceremony when Rochester Police Sgt. Mark Simmons is promoted to Lieutenant, if he will remember LaShedica.
I wonder if he will remember, that the first time in his career that he had an opportunity to make a difference in a young suicidal girl’s life by helping her, that instead he tried to kill her.