Stop, Or I Won't Shoot!

Looks like the Fort Lauderdale police have a case of suicide-by-cop on their hands. At around 2 a.m. this morning, officers responded to call about an attempted suicide in the northwest section of Fort Lauderdale. They arrived to find 18-year-old Jordan Christian wielding a knife.

According to public information officer Frank Sousa, Christian charged the cops; the police officers tried to tase him, but the young man kept advancing -- knife in hand. They shot and killed Jordan Christian.

jordan1.jpgHis case is an example of the complexity for police in responding to calls involving suicide. A person who wants to die doesn't respond to the old, "Stop or I'll shoot."
 
Psychologists reason that in our Judeo-Christian culture, the depressed often feel guilty taking their own lives. So they try to get someone else to do it. And, well, police officers are always armed. This 1983 study of police-involved shootings in LA County found that one in 10 incidents were actually police-assisted suicides.

Frequently enough, the "weapon" is a fake. And pulling the trigger really does a number on the cops.


After the jump, read an account from a distraught officer in North Miami Beach who shot a depressed young man carrying a toy gun. It's an excerpt from this New Times article, Toy Soldiers:


"I opened fire. I'm not sure if I was the first one who shot. But I know I discharged my weapon in his direction... he was laying on his stomach bleeding... I remember holstering my weapon, and I walked towards him to get the weapon away from his reach... When I got there, I utilized my right foot and I pushed the pistol away from his reach... He looked me in my eyes, and he said to me, 'It's not a real gun. It's fake.'

"It looked real. I looked at it a little bit more, and I looked at the magazine, where the magazine should be going in, and it appeared fake. And at that time, I lost it. Tears started coming out of my eyes. And I started walking away. And I'm trying to tell the other officers that, look what he made me do. And words couldn't come out. I couldn't talk. Tears were just coming out of my eyes. All I remember, Officer Bagwell walked up to me and says -- I'm not sure if they knew it was a fake gun or not -- but he looked at me and said, 'It will be okay. It will be okay. Let's get out of here.' "

Lesson: If a loved one is acting suicidal, think twice about calling cops.

-- Amy Guthrie

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