Suspect with mental health issues was denied help before killing homeless man in Upland, family says

UPLAND, Calif. (KABC) -- The family of a suspect arrested on suspicion of murdering a homeless man in Upland last month is outraged that the suspect was turned away by mental health professionals hours before the crime occurred.

Kejuan Parker, 26, is facing murder charges in the death of transient Gian Chavez, whose body was found in Memorial Park in Upland the night of Dec. 21. Parker's family says the suspect suffered from drug and mental health issues, and San Bernardino County Behavioral Health Services declined to treat him three hours before the murder.

"They need to reevaluate their criteria," said Lashaun Parker, the suspect's mother. "It's not fair."

Parker said her son was living on his own in Brawley, but after getting into trouble he showed up at their Upland apartment asking for help back in November.

They said that he has drug and mental health issues, was at one point suicidal, and would often talk to himself and said he was hearing voices in his head for years. The family claims he believed someone had molested his daughter, and he was trying to find that person.

"I guess in his mind the person who did this to his daughter was out here (in the park), and those voices led him to think that. But that wasn't so, but he wasn't in his mind," said Parker.

Family members at the apartment said his erratic behavior came to a head the day of the eventual crime. The suspect's sister Kameisha Fuller said she reached out to San Bernardino County Behavioral Health Services for help, and the agency sent two representatives to their apartment that day.

At first, she said her brother didn't want any help. But she said he eventually changed his mind and agreed to turn himself over to the members of the community crisis response team that responded to the home.

She said the two representatives went back to their vehicle to make a private phone call with a supervisor. But about an hour later they came back to the apartment and told them that they would not be able to help Parker, because he didn't meet certain criteria.

Fuller said she was stunned, and her brother was infuriated.

"She said her supervisor said we can't take him because he didn't meet some criteria," Fuller said. "I'm like 'What criteria does he have to meet?' If he's crying out for help, and saying he needs help, you should take him. What's the problem?"

Fuller said the representatives gave her brother a pair of pamphlets advertising facilities that might be able to offer help. At that time, she said she told her brother that after she returned from work the next day, she would drive him to those facilities to try to get help.

But that never happened. Three hours after the two representatives left the apartment, Lashaun Parker said her son became so erratic that he left the apartment and walked across the street toward Memorial Park.

Not long after he came back, she said she started to hear the sounds of a police helicopter whirling overhead, and sirens as police responded to the scene.

Detectives would soon come to their apartment and arrest Kejuan Parker for the murder of Gian Chavez.

San Bernardino County provided Eyewitness News with a statement in response to our inquiries about why their representatives did not take Kejuan Parker into their custody for mental health treatment.

"Patient confidentiality rules prevent the County from discussing or confirming its involvement in specific cases," said spokesperson David Wert in the statement. "However, County Behavioral Health Community Crisis Response Teams work collaboratively with community partners such as law enforcement to ensure the health and safety of persons living with mental illness. This process includes adhering to CA law to evaluate for treatment options."

Upland police confirmed to Eyewitness News that the family told them during their initial interview with detectives after the homicide that they claimed to have called San Bernardino County Behavioral Health Services, but they declined to assist.

Police also said that Behavior Health Services reached out to them to advise them of their meeting with Kejuan Parker, but not until after the murder had already occurred.

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