A former Francisco Torres resident is recuperating at home from a manic episode on Halloween that resulted in a 28-hour stay in Santa Barbara County Jail and an 11-day stay at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
Following what he estimated to be between four and seven days without sleep, 19-year-old undeclared freshman Dahsiell Lee DeRouen-Hawkins walked around the perimeter of FT at about 8 a.m. on Oct. 31. According to an Isla Vista Foot Patrol report, DeRouen-Hawkins was acting in a way that led FT staff to believe he might have been intoxicated. At one point, DeRouen-Hawkins allegedly kissed a female custodian. DeRouen-Hawkins said he credits his bizarre behavior that day to his mental illness.
“I was in a manic state,” he said. “I was completely unaware of what I was doing … I was mentally ill and in need of medical attention.”
The catalyst of the episode was an Oct. 25 Ani DiFranco concert, DeRouen-Hawkins said. Prior to that, he said he had never manifested symptoms of bipolar disorder, a mental illness characterized by – among other symptoms – a volatile fluctuation between moods. As the police report corroborates, DeRouen-Hawkins also said his actions were not the result of having ingested a controlled substance.
“Blood tests at the hospital indicated there was neither alcohol nor hard drugs in my system whatsoever,” he said. “I was in no way under the influence at the time.”
According to their report, when IVFP officers arrived at FT in response to a call of a possibly intoxicated man, they approached DeRouen-Hawkins, who was uncooperative. He allegedly was combative with them in a manner that required a wrist restraint and, later, a Velcro body restraint.
DeRouen-Hawkins disagrees, stating that he “did not respond physically until the police made the first move.” However, he also said that he regrets his actions while in his deluded state.
“I am truly sorry for any injuries that might have occurred to the police as a result of the scuffle when they attempted to apprehend me. … [They] were only doing their job, and I respect that,” he said. “I don’t blame the state. I love America way too much to do that.”
Although DeRouen-Hawkins dropped this quarter’s classes, he said he intends to attend UCSB again next quarter. He will not be living at FT. DeRouen-Hawkins also said he wished the staff at FT had been better prepared to handle an instance of severe mental illness.
“In retrospect it would seem far more appropriate to call the campus hospital, which is equipped to deal with such mental disorders, than to call the police,” he said. “It would seem that the staff at Francisco Torres should be made aware of the various alternatives to calling the police when a student appears to be off track. To assume he is intoxicated or on drugs should not be the first move.”
Future students could be spared a similar experience with proper training, DeRouen-Hawkins said. He also said he may pursue a civil suit against FT in response to his treatment.
“The 27 hours I spent in jail only exacerbated my illness. If student and staff awareness can prevent this ordeal from happening to another student in the future, then my trauma will not have been for naught,” he said. “The most important thing is that there’s an awareness of mental health issues on campus.”
A representative from FT declined to comment.