Concerns raised over police response to elderly man's distress call

Friends of an elderly, DeKalb County man, who died inside his home, are speaking out after they believe police should have done more when they asked for help.

The DeKalb County Police Department says officers did their due diligence. Gail Shaheed says BJ Williams has been dating her mother and part of their family for the past decade. She says on June 26th, Williams told her mom that he was having some health problems and then no one could get in contact with him.

"The last call that my mom had with the love of her life, he said his [ostomy] bag had broken," said Shaheed. "She was very worried."

On Wednesday, Shaheed says she went with several others to his home in Lithonia to check on him, but he did not answer the door and that is when they knew something was wrong.

She says there was other concerning signs as well. "We saw groceries in the car that had been there a while. We then called the police," said Shaheed.

She says officers arrived and knocked on the door but would not go in. "They said they needed a relative," she added. "No relatives live in Georgia. He’s been part of our family for the last 10 years. But I knew there was a problem."

On Thursday, Shaheed says a relative finally arrived. "We had to break down the door and the lock and that’s where he was found, on the couch, dead."

She says she cannot help but wonder if he could have been saved had help come sooner.

We reached out to the DeKalb County Police Department regarding the incident. A spokesperson confirmed that officers did go to the address twice. "The officers did not have enough cause to justify making a forced entry into the apartment and explained this to the complainant," stated a spokesperson.

 Shaheed says she thinks the medical emergency concerns should have been enough. "He’s 83. He lives alone, his family does not live here," she said.

"As for policy, we do not have a specific policy on how officers should respond to welfare checks as every call is different in nature," said the department."

Shaheed says she hopes this will help bring awareness to elderly medical emergencies and the need for assistance in those situations.