The man shot and killed by a Lacy Lakeview officer Sunday has been identified as Dustin Demaurean Powell, a 34-year-old Lacy Lakeview resident who a court-appointed psychologist had previously recognized as needing treatment for schizophrenia.
Powell, who is Black, was shot once in the chest by officer Thomas Beasley on Sunday morning after Powell ignored numerous commands to drop a hatchet and stop advancing toward the officer, Lacy Lakeview Police Chief John Truehitt said Tuesday.
Powell, who witnesses and the officer reported appeared agitated, had broken a number of car windows with the hatchet before residents on Faye Street called police, according to a press release from police Monday.
The Texas Rangers are investigating the incident, which was captured on video by witnesses and Beasley’s body camera, officials said. Powell’s body was sent to the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences, in Dallas, for autopsy.
Truehitt declined additional comment Tuesday. Powell’s family also declined a Tribune-Herald interview request.
According to court records, Powell had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was a felon and had a history of substance abuse.
A court-appointed psychologist reported after a 2017 interview with Powell that he could function in society if he received proper treatment for schizophrenia. In the same report, the psychologist wrote that Powell’s family had complained of Powell being discharged from a psychiatric facility while “actively psychotic,” just days before he walked into strangers’ house.
Powell was placed on felony probation for five years after a conviction for assault dating violence by occlusion. He also has misdemeanor convictions for possession of marijuana in 2007 and drunken driving in 2011, plus a host of arrests from 2005 to 2017 for assaults, criminal mischief, burglary of a habitation and marijuana possession that ultimately were dismissed, according to county records.
At the time of his death, Powell had a pending misdemeanor assault case from November 2020 and an unfiled misdemeanor assault family violence case from January 2021.
Prosecutors filed a motion to revoke Powell’s probation in July 2017 toward the end of his probationary term. Court officials alleged 19 violations, including cocaine and marijuana use, a drunken driving and two public intoxication arrests, a burglary of a habitation arrest, alcohol abuse and others.
He was continued on probation and discharged from court supervision in 2017, court records show.
However, Powell’s court-appointed attorney in the burglary case questioned his mental stability and asked a judge to appoint Waco psychologist Lee Carter to evaluate Powell’s sanity and competence to stand trial.
In a report dated Aug. 16, 2017, Dr. Carter noted that Powell has a history of multiple psychiatric hospital admissions in Waco, Belton and Austin and had schizophrenia and alcohol abuse disorder.
An intoxicated Powell entered a residence and tried to provoke a fight with people he did not know, according to Carter’s report. The residents ushered him out and called police, who had dealt with Powell the previous night when he was drunk, standing in the middle of the street and screaming.
Powell’s family members told Carter that Powell had a normal childhood, but started exhibiting psychotic symptoms at 18 that worsened with age.
“Initially, the family thought he was simply going through a phase of adolescent rebellion, but it soon became apparent that something much more serious was wrong,” Carter wrote in his report to the court. “As auditory hallucinations worsened, his behavior became more bizarre and difficult to manage.”
Powell was released from a psychiatric facility in Belton days before he walked into the strangers’ home and his family told Carter that they were frustrated because he was “actively psychotic” at the time he was discharged from the hospital.
During Carter’s interview with Powell, the doctor said Powell spoke openly about his mental illness.
“I have schizophrenia — I understand that,” Powell told Carter, making multiple references to demon possession and being overtaken by evil spirits.
Powell, who was in jail during the interview, told Carter he had been on his medication for two months, so he wasn’t hearing as many voices as before. “I hear God’s voice every now and then, but it’s good,” he said, according to Carter’s report.
“Despite relative clarity of thought, he insisted in the reality of demons and spirits,” Carter wrote. “He gave a physical description of God, saying he regularly sees him. Further, he gave a description of the devil’s physical appearance. … He told stories about interactions between God and the angels that seemed to have loose connections to stories found in the Bible. He told these stories to illustrate how, ‘I’m constantly trying to figure out the truth in my mind.’”
Powell told Carter that he drinks to excess so he can sleep and to escape the 100 hallucinations he reported he had daily.
“It’s a full-time job trying to stay away from the hallucinations,” he was quoted as saying in Carter’s report.
Carter determined Powell was insane at the time of the burglary.