Friends say suspect in tussle mentally ill, not on narcotics
A Nevada City man who clashed with a highway patrolman last weekend while painted blue and claiming to be a bat wasn’t on narcotics, acquaintances say, but was having a manic episode brought on by mental illness.
Kaveh Tafreshi, 39, “is incredibly intelligent and talented and compassionate, and he’s been working very hard to get a handle on his bipolar disorder,” said his friend Robin Phillips on Tuesday.
The California Highway Patrol reported that Tafreshi was on narcotics when he tussled with a patrolman Sunday. He’s being held at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility and is scheduled to be arraigned today.
Phillips thinks authorities should reconsider prosecuting Tafreshi. He’s under the care of a Sacramento psychiatrist and has been taking only prescribed medications, she said, including marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. Tafreshi also cares for his 92-year-old grandmother.
Mikail Graham, a Nevada City music promoter, has been working on a compact disc with Tafreshi.
“He’s a wonderful musician, very gifted, a lovely voice, and he has some real interesting ideas,” said Graham, who described Tafreshi’s music as a combination of New Age, jazz fusion, rock and classical.
Graham called Tafreshi “a happy soul,” but added, “He’s got an affliction of the sort that gets in the way of his communicating with the world in the best way possible.”
About two years ago, Tafreshi received treatment from the Nevada County Department of Behavioral Health Services. But he became frustrated after having several appointments canceled, Phillips said. He swore off the department after the Jan. 10, 2001, shootings at the department, allegedly by Scott Thorpe, a mental health client at the time.
When Tafreshi is manic, Phillips said, his thoughts race and he doesn’t eat or sleep.
Behavioral Health Director Robert Erickson, speaking generally, said people with bipolar disorder sometimes have wide mood swings between euphoria and depression, and that different medications can help regulate that.
“The goal in treatment is to get them halfway in between, ” he said.
Rod Pence, president of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Nevada County, said Tafreshi’s case might fit a scenario that officials are trying to avoid. He and others – including police personnel, court officials and mental health-care providers – are on the county Forensic Task Force on Mental Illness.
The group is organizing a four-hour training program for law enforcement personnel.
Tafreshi’s arrest occurred Sunday near North Bloomfield and Rock Creek roads northeast of Nevada City, where CHP Officer Al Jones found Tafreshi painted blue on his neck, chest and hands.
“I’m a bat, I’m a bat …,” he said, according to Jones.
The officer also said Tafreshi wore a black judo robe and black boxing shorts while holding a broomstick. After refusing to put down the stick, the officer sprayed Tafreshi with pepper spray, a wrestling match ensued, and both men suffered minor injuries.
A witness earlier reported that Tafreshi had smeared the witness’s vehicle with blue paint.
The CHP is awaiting blood-test results to see if Tafreshi had narcotics in his system, Officer George Kirbyson said Tuesday.
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