ONTD Political

[TW: Suicide] Suicidal man shot and killed by police

1:04 am - 03/27/2013
ROCKY FACE, GA (WRCB) -- A Whitfield County deputy responded to a suicide attempt, when authorities say the man making the threats turned on police.

That's when an officer opened fire.

Neighbors on Old Chattanooga Road describe hearing a single gunshot, shortly after 8:30 Monday night.

"We just heard a shot and within seconds of coming outside there were police officers everywhere," says Sherry Shepard.

Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood says it was a Whitfield County deputy who pulled the trigger.

"The call came in as an individual attempting suicide," says Sheriff Chitwood.

Deputies arrived to find a 25-year-old man with self-inflicted wounds.

He had a knife.

Chitwood says he turned on police.

"They did deploy the taser gun," Sheriff Chitwood. "It had absolutely no affect on him."

"One of our officers did in fact discharge his duty weapon," adds Chitwood.

The man was taken to Hamilton Medical Center, where he later died.

Chitwood wasn't able to tell us how many suicide calls his deputies respond to each year, but he says they train for this scenario.

"We do training constantly," the sheriff says.

"We do the best we can but until you are actually put in the predicament you don't know how you are going to react. We just hope that our officers have been trained well enough that they do make the best decision."

While the GBI investigates to determine if the officer's actions were warranted, neighbors are puzzled.

"He's always been a real good neighbor," Blake Ellison says. "As far as anything of knowing why it happened or anything of that nature, I really don't have a clue."

Ellison lives down the street.

He can't help but worry about the man's children, who are now left without a father.

"They play ball on weekends outside," Ellison says. They're smiling, laughing, always having a good time. You would have never thought."

The sheriff has not released the name of the deputy involved. He is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

That's standard department policy.

lykomancer 27th-Mar-2013 03:18 pm (UTC)
I suppose this makes me a Terrible Person, but if the victim was suicidal, then I guess he got what he wanted in the end? (Seriously, threatening a suicidal person with lethal force is dumb. They already want to die. Why would being threatened with death faze them?)
brucelynn 27th-Mar-2013 03:27 pm (UTC)
that's not really the point though

happythree 27th-Mar-2013 03:35 pm (UTC)
You are massively oversimplifying.
tnganon 28th-Mar-2013 09:12 am (UTC)
yeah, it kind of does make u a terrible person
muizenstaartje 28th-Mar-2013 04:25 pm (UTC)
I’m going to give you a polite explanation so that next time you say "Well, he/she wanted to die anyway, so what’s the problem?" you don’t need to ask if that makes you a terrible person.

[TW for talk about suicide]
A few months ago I was prescribed some meds to help fight off migraines. They made me instantly suicidal. I had everything going for me: nice home, good job, no financial issues, brand new husband, friends, everything to make me happy and yet there was this strong notion that I should not exist. That I should end my life and that would be for the best. I did not want to die and I had to fight hard to keep myself from killing myself every minute of the day. I’m not exaggerating. I stopped taking the meds and I no longer felt like I should not exist within a week. That’s chemical imbalance for you and for some people that’s a chronic condition.
My husband is self-composed and a fully functional adult with a good life including a steady job, friends, nice home, a wife, good health, etc. and yet at times he must fight the urge to punish himself as he feels like he’s a failure. Atychiphobia is a real condition and it sucks. Most of the time he’s doing fine, but sometimes he goes through a rough patch and a few weeks ago he was running screaming from the kitchen saying he couldn’t be around knives. He doesn’t want to die.
Some people fight against notions or urges they don’t even want to have. Some only have to struggle now and then and others struggle daily. Most of the time it goes okay, but things can go bad when control slips away even for a moment. Someone like that may need help to get back in control.

When someone inflicts wounds upon themselves with a knife, they may be suicidal and they may or may not want to die. Regardless of that, they are most likely distressed and in need of help. Shooting someone so they die does not help them.
Saying "he got what he wanted" does not help anyone.

Tl;dr: Not all suidical people want to die. Some do and some don't and you made an ass of yourself.
brucelynn 27th-Mar-2013 03:32 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm .....

I do not agree with the way this was handled , it's like they went in with nothing but the intention to kill him rather than make an attempt to help him. That is why I do not trust police officers at all and I wonder if he was actually trying to commit suicide .... hmmm
happythree 27th-Mar-2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
My uncle died like this. He was an alcoholic, and my aunt and his (adult) sons gave him the choice to clean up or leave the home. They had a gun in the home, he threatened to use it on himself, and my aunt and his sons left the house and called the police.

Going off of the police reports, the action on the part of the police was ultimately understandable. They found an unstable man with a gun inside - surprise surprise - and they killed him. However, the incident has always made me question whether it was appropriate for the police to enter the home in the first place. He was the only one in it, and therefore he was only risking harm to himself. If the police hadn't gotten involved, if he'd been given some hours to cool off, perhaps he would have decided to try to seek help for himself and his family. But they came in when the emotions from the intervention were still running high, and that was that.
mollywobbles867 27th-Mar-2013 04:15 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry about your uncle.
happythree 27th-Mar-2013 06:16 pm (UTC)
My grandparents and my aunt and cousins were the ones who suffered the most. I just don't think they knew what to expect when they called the police, but it seemed like the best option at the time. They talk about their guilt over it to this day (it happened over ten years ago). The whole situation is very difficult.
__nocturna 27th-Mar-2013 06:54 pm (UTC)
and if the police left and he did something (maybe to one of your relatives), your family probably would have blamed the police for leaving tbh

I don't think you can call the police and then not have them do anything. That's a shitty story though, I'm sorry about your uncle.
happythree 27th-Mar-2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
It seems to me that there are options other than 1. Leaving or 2. Entering a home and directly engaging someone. A number of my uncle's friends are themselves former police officers, and from what I heard from them, the actions of the officers (who were all quite new to the force) were a bit premature. Going with the reasoning of "Let's do whatever scared and emotional family members tell us to do" doesn't strike me as good policy. As someone else pointed out, bring a suicide expert along very well may have diffused the situation, and it wouldn't have qualified as a failure on the part of the police to take action.
cozmic_oceanz 27th-Mar-2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
wtf. w-t-f.
rhysande 27th-Mar-2013 05:08 pm (UTC)
There's no mention of anyone being held hostage or in imminent danger other than the victim turning on the police, which I have a feeling could have been avoided. I don't understand why the police didn't call in a suicide intervention expert as part of the response team.

I don't know much about weapons or how effective and easy to use they are, but aren't there other non/less-lethal options besides tasers that can (and should) be used to subdue someone before using a lethal weapon? Flashbangs, tear gas, rubber and beanbag rounds, tonfa and batons, and net guns come to mind. It seems to me that if the police were close enough to feel threatened by a knife or use a taser they should also have been close enough to use a net gun.
maenads_dance 27th-Mar-2013 06:04 pm (UTC)
These incidents are very common, because police are rarely given any training (or adequate training) for dealing with people who are severely mentally ill or suicidal. I wouldn't be surprised if, in the moment when the police shot this man to death, they actually were at risk of being harmed - suicide by cop isn't exactly uncommon among men. I do wonder, however, whether the earlier stages of the police intervention might have been managed in such a way that this man could not have posed a risk to anyone other than himself.

very sad for his family.
234_am 27th-Mar-2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
Why are police departments "training" to confront suicidal people? I would think that communicating with the person, maybe outside of the house or in a safe area would make more sense. Stake out around the perimeter and make sure the person doesn't leave, in case of them harming others? Bring a psychologist or something to try to talk the person down?

I know that for the times I've felt suicidal, having a direct confrontation made things even worse. If I had a gun and was waving it around, couldn't they shoot my foot or arm so that I might be disarmed instead of aiming to kill? Police officers learn to shoot their weapons, so they should be able to choose a way to not kill someone.

This entire thing sickens me.

Edited at 2013-03-27 08:32 pm (UTC)
tigerdreams 27th-Mar-2013 09:28 pm (UTC)
I don't disagree with you on the point that the police should have found alternate ways to defuse the situation peacefully, but police are specifically trained not to try to use their firearms to shoot for non-vital areas, for a couple of reasons. It's easier to miss when you're aiming for an extremity rather than the center of mass, which could result in ricochet or hitting an unintended target. And given so many police departments' terrible track record with tasers and the like, I don't think anyone wants cops to start thinking of their guns as "nonlethal" weapons. Basic gun safety says not to point a firearm at anything you don't intend to destroy. I think what we want here is to teach police to rely less on their guns, not more.

But to reiterate, you're right, they should've locked down the area and brought in a psychologist or otherwise found a way to resolve the situation safely for all concerned, rather than pulling guns.
omimouse 27th-Mar-2013 09:41 pm (UTC)
Shooting to wound is . . . difficult at best. A gun is not a wounding weapon; it is a killing weapon. Gunshot wounds (as opposed to gunshot deaths) are either the result of an incredible amount of training to hit precisely, or user error of some sort.

And police training is to shoot for center body mass for just that reason. You're more likely to hit the target, and far less likely to have the bullet go somewhere else.

(Note that my personal feelings about the police are not anywhere near as kind as this comment makes them look; this is more about the fact that I think far too few people truly realize and treat guns like the lethal weapons they are. Guns are not for wounding. They are for killing. Anyone who does not accept that fact has no damned business owning one. And for the record, I extend this philosophy to bows and swords as well.)
apostle_of_eris 28th-Mar-2013 05:39 am (UTC)
"suicide by cop" is not new.
tnganon 28th-Mar-2013 09:15 am (UTC)
neither is the murder of mentally ill people by police
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