Mental health system flaws contributed to naked man’s death, Spring Lake police say

Cumberland County News
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One man is dead after a bizarre run-in with Spring Lake police this past weekend.

Police say 29-year-old Bernard Bryant was seen running naked on Manchester Drive in Spring Lake Sunday morning.

Police say he jumped into the Lower Little River because of a mental illness. Bryant died after he was pulled out of the river.

He was a man who police say may have fallen through the cracks because of a flaw in the system.      

Police say they’d had run-ins with Bryant for years — each time finding him running naked.

“We can assume he did have some mental conditions,” Spring Lake Police Chief Troy McDuffie.


But this time, when they found him naked, it turned deadly.

Police say they chased him Sunday until he jumped into a river.

“At that time, they pulled him out of the river, however, he went into shock shortly afterward and lost consciousness,” said McDuffie.

He died at the hospital a short time later.

But police say it may have been prevented if not for what the chief says is a flaw in the system.

“As law enforcement reporting him to a facility for help that mainly is gonna fall on the family, the only time that we intervene is that when we’re called and the individual is breaking the law,” said McDuffie.

But Bryant has a long history of homelessness and breaking the law.

The Cumberland County sheriff’s office says he was arrested 24 times since 2006. The last four times for indecent exposure.

The sheriff’s office says they have psychologists at the jail, but it’s unclear whether Bryant was ever given help for mental illness before he died.

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