Monday, July 19, 2005
South Bend police stop suicide with Taser
South Bend— Over the weekend on July 17, at approximately 1:15 a.m., officers of the 1st Detail Uniformed Division were dispatched to the 100 block of West South Street in response to reports that a man was threatening to commit suicide.
As officers arrived on the scene and searched for the male, the man called the dispatch center by cellular phone and stated he was actively “stabbing” himself at that time. After several minutes of searching, Patrolman Christopher Bortone located the man behind a billboard in a thicket of tall weeds, on the embankment of the railroad tracks.
When officers approached him, he began to aggressively slash at his arms, legs and face with a box cutter style knife. Due to the man’s location in the thicket, officers were unable to safely advance towards the man to stop him.
Officers then began talking with the man in attempt to calm him and get him to drop the knife. The man however continued to actively attempt to cut himself and he was uncommunicative with officers. Several officers, including Corporal Christopher Houser, ascended the embankment and approached the man from behind. Cpl. Houser was able to get into a position which afforded him a direct line of sight to the man.
After repeated pleas for the man to stop failed, Cpl. Houser deployed his Taser, connecting with the man. He then complied with the officer’s orders to drop his knife. The man was secured and transported to Madison Hospital for mental health evaluation. Fortunately, he nor any of the officers were injured in the incident.
The individual was a 52-year-old male who reported he was homeless. In what was rapidly progressing into a hopeless situation, after all other measures up to that point had failed, the use of the Taser prevented a suicide.
1st Detail Captain Jeffrey Walters stated, “No question in my mind that had it not been for the Taser, either the man would have seriously or fatally injured himself– or an officer who may have had to try to subdue him ‘hands-on’. With all the negative and questionable Taser issues of late, this is a reminder of its positive value to us and those who we serve and protect. This is just one great example of why we issue Tasers and training to our officers.”