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Mental Health Court urged for ‘fake cop’ suspect

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Brenden Wysynski, 18, is charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer. (Wysynski’s family)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the months since 18-year-old Brenden Wysynski was charged with impersonating a deputy, a misdemeanor, his family said he has gotten death threats and lost multiple jobs.

“Not being able to support his family is rough,” his mother, Frankye Silva, told the Journal. “He has a 4-month-old little girl. It adds to his depression.”

Attorneys with the public defender’s office say Wysynski has been diagnosed with developmental disorders – autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – and clinicians say those disorders likely played a hand in his decision to pretend to be a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy and pull over a car for speeding in September.

But even though a psychologist and the Metropolitan Court’s clinician recommended Wysynski as a candidate for Mental Health Court, the District Attorney’s Office has decided not to go that route.

“We disagree that Wysynski is an appropriate candidate for the mental health court program,” Michael Patrick, a spokesman for the DA’s Office, wrote in a statement to the Journal.

A video of Wysynski’s arrest went viral last fall after an Albuquerque Police Department officer saw him – dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap – pulling over a car on Fourth Street near Interstate 40, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court. Wysynski’s car had emergency lights on it, and he was wearing a star-shaped sheriff’s badge that he said he bought online.

Maxwell Kauffman, an attorney with the Law Office of the Public Defender and a member of the Mental Health Response Advisory Committee, laid out the case for Wysynski to participate in Metropolitan Court’s Mental Health Court at the committee’s meeting last week.

In the days after Kauffman’s presentation, Danny Whatley, the committee chairman and director of the Rock at NoonDay homeless shelter, said the group plans to try to meet with the district attorney to talk about this case. However, MHRAC was created as part of the Albuquerque Police Department reforms and does not have a say in matters dealing with the courts or the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.

“Not knowing all of the details about Mr. Wysnski’s case, and not having any standing in a matter that the District Attorney is prosecuting, we certainly would not question the judgment and decision of Mr. Torrez or his staff,” Whatley wrote in an email.

Mental Health Court is a yearlong pre-adjudication program in which defendants are put into a treatment plan. If they fail to follow through with treatment, they go to trial. If they succeed, the charges are dismissed.

Kauffman said both a board-certified psychologist working for the defense and a clinician who evaluates defendants at Metropolitan Court determined Wysynski would be a good fit for the program.

“He would do very well in the Behavioral Health (Mental Health) Court program,” the clinician wrote in an assessment. “The benefits for him to have counseling, would be to help him try to manage stress, such as being a new father, being in a young marriage, trying to re-secure employment with the security work he is doing and working through the community threats he and his family had received when his situation was widely broadcasted on the news.”

However, the District Attorney’s Office said the defense has not raised competency and pointed out that Wysynski had a gun in his car when he was conducting the fake traffic stop.

“He chose to make the decisions he made that evening,” Patrick said in a statement. “By his own admission, even he knew what he was doing was wrong.”


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