The PJ Tatler

Austin Suicide by Cop Incident: Statesman Blames Police

Somebody points a gun at a cop and gets shot. This simple truth isn’t enough for the Austin American Statesman.

Deputies were told during a “check-welfare” call that a man was suicidal and armed. During the three-hour interaction, the armed subject barricaded himself in his trailer. Attempts to negotiate and coax the man outside failed. After three hours, he exited his trailer carrying a gun. Officers told him to drop it. Instead, he pointed it at a deputy, who responded in self-defense.

The Statesman cited the deceased’s friend, a mechanic by profession, as their expert criminologist.

He said he attempted to talk to his friend before he was called back by authorities.

He called the SWAT team “aggressive” and “overzealous.”

Here’s the Statesman’s missing lede: “Heartless cops stop friend from saving victim’s life, kill victim instead.”

In a follow-up report, the same “expert” claimed: “If they would have left me alone with him, … he could have gotten some help and none of this would have happened.” So now, he’s not only a criminologist, but a psychologist as well. Some sort of highly educated philosopher/mechanic?

This demands one question, which the Statesman never asks: You were “left alone with him for years” before this incident involving police. Why didn’t you help him then, with all your apparent expertise to defuse the problem?

Real experts provide better answers. Ron Borsch has over 30 years police experience, including 17 on SWAT, and presently serves as manager and lead trainer of a post-graduate police academy in Bedford, Ohio.

“These situations where officers are confronting suicidal subjects are always a nightmare.

Any hesitation on the officers’ part from hoping to have a lifesaving outcome can and has resulted in officer deaths and serious injury. If this occurs, other officers at the scene will likely shoot the crisis causer, so we end up with casualties on both sides. Such a “tie” is unacceptable. Law enforcement officers are no different than the rest of the community in that they try not  to take unnecessary chances on the job, so they can go home to their families unharmed.

Appropriate training aims at prevailing and winning these encounters, which often boil down to: you are either quick or you are dead.

Arm chair quarterbacks, or folks that do not understand action vs. reaction with their life and livelihood on the line, have occasionally been invited to LE training such as realistic simulations with Simunition Marking Cartridges or Airsoft 11 mm BB’s.

Rarely do they return to their prior faulty beliefs after experiencing such realistic scenarios. They most often come to the realization that deadly force decision principles MUST be made ahead of time, not when a fast breaking situation is unfolding around them.”

As for the well-meaning friend, here’s a few points from another long-time officer.

“Most police policies/procedures involving contact with a barricaded/suicidal  suspect prohibit officers from allowing anyone other than an officer to talk with the suspect, barring extraordinary circumstances. You never know what will trigger an unbalanced suspect. This guy’s friend was upset that the police didn’t let him intervene. For all the cops know, this guy was sleeping with his ex. It’s a good tactical call by the cops.

Civilians think the cops are heartless and authoritarian, because they know the suspect and THINK they know how he is going to respond to their entreaties. When the situation devolves to the point where their friend has a gun and is threatening to kill himself, nobody knows how he’ll respond. The police did the right thing to attempt to save suspect and limit collateral damage. The suspect committed suicide by cop (if you do anything other than drop a gun in the presence of a cop in this set of circumstances, you are asking the cops to shoot you). His friend feels bad and transfers his anger onto anyone but himself (where was the friend when this situation was developing?)

Cops come on scene and are forced to resolve a situation that friends let fester. Cops have a larger mandate to protect all the public, which is threatened by a suicidal man with a gun.”

The recent Virginia Tech incident proves these truths: a suicidal young man murdered a police officer before taking his own life. So does the young man in Hollywood who, screaming he wanted to die, murdered one man in a random shooting spree on Sunset Boulevard, and then pointed his gun at cops after they ordered him to drop it.

Leave it to an anti-gun, anti-cop rag to shoot and not bother asking intelligent questions.