STOW, Ohio (AP) — Peggy Barney could barely recognize the man in the back seat of her car, and she was terrified. After a five-day methamphetamine binge, William Porubsky was hallucinating, screaming and bleeding out of both ears.
She drove him to the hospital, but twenty four hours later, he was dead. A police officer had shot him after picking him up from the streets late at night.
In this Sept. 10, 2017 photo, a mourner holds a sign at a memorial for William Porubsky in Stow, Ohio. William Porubsky was shot dead by a police officer less than a day after going to a hospital for drug and mental health issues. Friends and family of William Porubsky are wondering why he wasn’t helped when they say police knew about his drug abuse and mental health issues. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
"Honest to God, I didn't know what to do," Barney said. "It wasn't Billy. It was pure insanity."
Porubsky, 30, used drugs and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He'd been seeking help for months, but never made it into long-term rehab. As public awareness grows about Ohio's drug problem, friends and family question why he was shot instead of treated.
Stow Police knew Porubsky had drug and mental health issues and sent him to a psychiatric ward on at least one occasion, according to reports obtained through an open-records request.
"This was absolutely avoidable," said his brother, Dan Porubsky.
In this Sept. 10, 2017 photo, Daniel Porubsky cries at a memorial for his brother William Porubsky in Stow, Ohio. William Porubsky was shot dead by a police officer less than a day after going to a hospital for drug and mental health issues. Friends and family of William Porubsky are wondering why he wasn’t helped when they say police knew about his drug abuse and mental health issues. (AP Photo/Dake Kang)
THE NIGHT OF
Shortly before 11 p.m. on Sept. 3, Stow Officer Robert Molody spotted Porubsky wandering by the road. A resident had called to complain he was knocking on doors, asking for cigarettes.
According to Molody's body camera footage, he convinced Porubsky to go to a shelter. The two chatted about Labor Day fireworks on the way, but started arguing when Porubsky asked to be taken back to Stow.
FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2017, file image made from a body camera video provided by the Stow Police Department, William Porubsky stands by Officer Robert Molody's cruiser in Stow, Ohio. Molody shot and killed Porubsky near the homeless shelter in Akron after Porubsky tackled him, according to police video footage released Thursday, Sept. 7. Friends and family of Porubsky have been wondering why he wasn’t helped when they say police knew about his drug abuse and mental health issues. (Stow Police Department via AP, File)
Molody refused and pulled up at the shelter. He got out of the cruiser, opened Porubsky's door and ordered him out.
The footage showed Porubsky, who was unarmed and not handcuffed, refusing to budge from the back seat, prompting Molody to call for backup. Molody stood outside Porubsky's open door, arguing with him for five minutes before pointing a stun gun at him.
Porubsky got out, pushed aside the stun gun and ran off. After Molody zapped at Porubsky with the stun gun, Porubsky rushed Molody and tackled him. Seconds later, Molody shot him.
Andrew Hayes, a friend of Porubsky's, said there are many unanswered questions, especially about the officer's training.
"Why didn't the cop leave him in the car? Why did he pull the trigger? There's a whole bunch of 'whys'," he said.
Stow Police training coordinator Sgt. Heather Prusha said Molody was certified through a crisis intervention training program, which includes de-escalation training scenarios and information on schizophrenia and drug abuse.
"I think it's normal to wonder if training was sufficient, but I will tell you that Stow is a very well-trained department," Prusha said.
Molody is one of 19 officers in a department of 41 that had received the training.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said after Tamir Rice was shot dead by an officer in Cleveland in 2014, Ohio stepped up mental illness training requirements for police.
"There's a lot more emphasis on mental health, a lot more emphasis on de-escalation," DeWine said. "The whole purpose behind this is to let officers see these individuals as people."
A law enforcement expert, who hasn't seen the entire body camera footage, said the officer was well within his rights when he shot Porubsky. Still, he says, it seemed as though the officer could have deescalated the situation.
"Shut the door and let him stay in the cruiser until you have some safe assistance," said Timothy Dimoff, a former SWAT officer who regularly testifies as an expert witness in court cases. "When you're involved with the mentally disturbed, you need to have other officers there before you continue."
Others blame a broken drug and mental health care system.
"You can't train your way out of these incidents," said John Snook, head of Treatment Advocacy Center. "You need to ensure that people get the care they need before these incidents happen."
Authorities are investigating the shooting. Molody's personnel file does not show any history of disciplinary action.
Porubsky was left by his alcoholic father when he was young, Porubsky's grandmother Judy Varner said. As a child, he fished and skateboarded with his brother, Dan, but as he grew older, he started getting into fights. In 2004, his stepfather was arrested in for attempting to assault him. Porubsky was kicked out of his mother's apartment seven months later.
Porubsky's mother died in a motorcycle accident in 2008. His stepfather hanged himself not long after. When his brother left for the military, friends said, Porubsky sunk into a deep depression.
"He had no family," Varner said. "The only people he knew were on drugs."
By the time he was killed, his drug of choice was meth. It caused hallucinations and kept him awake for days at a time, Barney said, landing him in prison three times.
He last left prison in July. When he called friends seeking help, Barney took him in. He had won her trust after saving her granddaughter from a street beating.
"He was a really, really good guy," Barney said.
She tried for months to help him into rehab, but the one time she kept him sober long enough, the facility was full, Barney said.
Though Barney drove Porubsky to the hospital the night before he died, he was back on the streets within hours. The hospital had released him around 2:30 a.m. with nowhere to go. He walked barefoot in the rain 10 miles to her house, Barney said.
Later that morning, they went to church. He knelt before the altar and prayed, crying out for God to rescue him from the "demons coming after his soul," Barney said.
After church, he went to a gas station so that he could buy more meth.
Hours later, he was dead.