The phenomenon of "suicide-by-cop" - wherein a suicidal suspect confronts law enforcement authorities with the intention of provoking the cops into taking them out - is nothing new. We've written about it a number of times here on The Daily Weekly, and according to Seattle police we nearly had another tragic example to document late last week.
Luckily, however, SPD Detective Renee Witt says this time authorities were able to diffuse the situation.
According to police, the incident started early last Friday morning just after 4 a.m. when a sergeant driving his patrol car and returning to the East Precinct was honked at by another driver - in an attempt to get the sergeant's attention.
According to an account of the situation on the SPD Blotter blog:
The driver followed the sergeant from Broadway and Pine St to the East Precinct. The driver passed the sergeant and stopped in the middle of 12 Av. As the sergeant approached the car to assist the man, the driver stepped out of his vehicle holding a switchblade knife. He told the sergeant, "You are going to have to take me". "You are going to have to do me, sorry."
The sergeant called for additional units. The subject had a significant cut to his left wrist and stood in the middle of the street crouched as if he was going to run at the officers. He pumped his legs and began to count down, readying himself to charge the officers on the sidewalk.
At one point, officers convinced the man to throw the knife down, which he did, but he picked it back up. Eventually, he laid down on the ground as it appeared that he was losing consciousness or perhaps he had decided to give up.
According to SPD, officers were able to secure the knife and place the man in handcuffs. Authorities say the man was treated at the scene by the Seattle Fire Department, and transported to Harborview for treatment of his self-inflicted wrist injury. Police say the man was later admitted to Harborview for a mental health evaluation.
As mentioned above, this isn't the first time The Daily Weekly has detailed a suicide-by-cop situation, and the phenomenon isn't particularly rare.
From our Daily Weekly post on the death of Yelm's Wayne Craddock from last October:
Suicide by cop, also known as death by cop, copicide and blue suicide, is not a new phenomenon and has been discussed in various scientific journals since the early 1980s, in which a individual bent on self-destruction engages in life-threatening behavior with the goal of provoking a law enforcement officer to kill him.
And it is extremely prevalent. A 2009 study in the Journal of Forensic Sciences found that 36 percent of all officer-involved shootings was the result of suicide by cop.
Thankfully, in this instance no one got shot or killed - and hopefully the suspect will now get the mental health treatment it sounds like he needs.