Hiking 900 Miles To Remember Son Shot By Deputy & Call Attention To Mental Illness: Mother’s Incredible Journey

Photo courtesy Wikipedia Idaho Centennial Trail

“That’s part of why I wanted to do this trail,” she explained. “I wanted to know what it was like to find a place to sleep every night, not knowing where your next meal is coming from, as close as I can be to what he had to deal with every day.”

(8-16-21) How do you call attention to the need for better police training and community mental health services after a sheriff’s deputy fatally shoots your son who had a serious mental illness?

How about hiking the Idaho Centennial Trail – all 900 miles of it?

That’s what Justine Murray and her partner, Matt Connery, are currently doing, stopping along their journey to talk to local reporters.

Two years ago, I posted a powerful video that Justine released shortly after her 25 year-old son, Ethan, who had schizophrenia, died in 2019. Ethan was shot by a Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy responding to calls about a young man running around without a shirt on and ‘acting strange.’ The officer chased Ethan into a homeless camp where he was shot multiple times even though he was not armed.

In an email, Justine told me that she and Matt are currently hiking along the Selway River, which will take them 8 to 14 days – “a huge wild stretch for us.” Hiking the entire trail through Idaho is no easy trek. It winds its way through various ecosystems from high desert canyon lands in southern Idaho to wet mountain forests in Northern Idaho – not to mention the bears. The couple will cross many mountains, streams and rivers. Claire Graham, with KHQ-TV based in Spokane, Washington, recently broadcast a wonderful story  about Justine’s and Matt’s crusade. You can watch the news clip here. 

I am certain Ethan’s spirit will be with them the entire journey.  You can track their trip and efforts by following the Ethan Murray Fund on Instagram and Facebook.

Meanwhile, here is the written version of Reporter Graham’s story.

Mother of man killed by deputies hiking 900 miles for mental health programs

SANDPOINT, Idaho – A woman from North Idaho is nearly halfway into an incredible journey, turning the biggest tragedy of her life into a way to change — and potentially save — the lives of others.

When her Justine Murray’s 25-year-old son Ethan was shot and killed by a Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy in 2019, she set out to make a difference, so mental health emergencies would stop ending this way.

“I feel like we need more help in advocating for our mentally ill,” Murray said days after the shooting. “There was no place for him to go. There was nobody that could help. I want things to change for our kids and our future.”

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.