City Desk

D.C. Police Shoot Suicidal Man

At about 10 a.m. this morning, Seventh District officers and D.C. Fire and EMS personnel responded to the 3300 block of 18th Street SE for the report of a suicide attempt. Officers were unable to gain entry into the apartment. After forcing their way in, an adult male allegedly armed with a knife "lunged toward members of the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services," according to a D.C. Police Department press release. "The officers verbally ordered the suspect to drop his weapon."

The department goes on to state: "The suspect failed to comply. The officers fired their service weapons at the suspect, striking him."

The man was taken to an area hospital. He is listed in critical condition. This incident is reminiscent of the police shooting death of David Kerstetter.

Here are some obvious questions that need to be answered:

1) Was the Department of Mental Health's emergency response unit called?
2) Were officers specially trained in handling residents in crisis called and where they on the scene at the time of the shooting?

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  • sedcdude

    Well if slim wanted to commit suicide, he damn sure did himself a favor by being armed with a got damn KNIFE and MPD incompetent asses obliged with LETHAL FORCE! You can't expect GORILLAS, BABOONS or URANGATAINS to act and perform outside of wild kingdom professionalism, guns at snowball fights, intradepartmental sex orgies and a PERSONAL VENDETTA against its citizens, he was lucky, he got what he wanted!

  • Grumpy

    I'm no fan of overzealous police but the simian references are cowardly and unnecessary. I doubt you'd make those same statements face to face with a cop, let alone anyone else you're 'referring' to. Everyone talks tough behind the keyboard.

  • sedcdude

    Speak for yourself and how befitting a name you have! Actually I'm no internet tuff guy, I am the real deal! What's more cowardly and unnecessary the fact that a suicidal man is dead or my candid descript????

    Overzealous is not a harsh enuff of a description as far as I'm concerned, so therefor I'll stick to my simian references!!

  • ontarioroader

    On the very short list of things that may require an immediate use of deadly force, I think attacking unarmed firerighters/EMT's with a knife would be pretty high up.

  • black jack



    -an adult male allegedly armed with a knife "lunged
    -"The officers verbally ordered the suspect to drop his weapon."
    -"The suspect failed to comply. The officers fired their service weapons at the suspect, striking him."


    he didn't die (lethal force) so that negates your argument, but I understand your intent!

  • Truth Hurts

    That's the exact same statement MPD issued after an officer fired 8 rounds and killed Kerstetter in the bedroom of his condo. Simply a cut and paste job. Let's see how many different versions MPD issues in days to come. See, with Kerstetter, it turned out he didn't lunge at anyone, he was shot while cowering in the corner of his room, there was no "struggle" as MPD claimed, and MPD changed its story after the medical examiner's autopsy to 'he held a knife to his own throat', and then suddenly lunged at cops. Not sure what happened in this case, but hopefully the guy will live to give his version.

  • No Relation to Angry Al

    This is known by police depts all over the country as "suicide by cop." It's easier for some folks to check out if somebody else pulls the trigger. If you come charging at police officers or third parties with a knife, the police predictably will oblige. Some MPD shootings seem wrong on their face (most obviously the Deonte Rawlings thing); this one at least sounds right.

  • F*** this guy

    If CPEP/Mobile Crisis took less than 45 minutes to show up to a call, they'd be called more.

  • b

    This article shows bias in the reporting. Rather than report the news, it appears to take an anti-police stance.

    From Wikipedia "..truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability — .. apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public".

    Do you think this article met that standard?

    I do not.

  • Liberal

    So the cops and medics think there might be somebody inside needing medical attention and you want them to wait on mental heath and specially trained cops? Come on! If they waited and the guy bled out you'd be saying they were cowards and incompetent. If a cop side stepped the charging man armed with a knife while he stabbed an unarmed medic, what would you call that, showing restraint. Man, I come here to see some different news not obvious bias or to see what people who don't live in the real world can write.

  • Truth Hurts

    Commenters who've already concluded the police shooting was justified may be unfamiliar with MPD's own rules. For many years, MPD resisted training its officers on dealing with mentally ill and suicidal people. In short, most urban police departments follow a model known as CIT, which calls for mental health specialists and specially trained officers to respond to these types of calls. Roughly analogous to calling in trained negotiators in barricade or hostage situations. It's proven effective at reducing violent endings both for cops and the public. About 5 months fter the Kerstetter shooting, MPD finally adopted the CIT model, hundreds of officers have been specially trained, and these officers (along with specialists from the dept of mental health) are supposed to be dispatched to handle these calls.

    Had this been done with Kerstetter (a Gulf War vet) he would be alive today. The question in yesterday's shooting is whether it was proper despite MPD's best efforts to follow CIT protocols or whether MPD failed to follow its own rules resulting in a shooting that otherwise would have been unnecessary. The public deserves answers and CP is right to ask questions.

  • fedupwithcitypaper

    City Paper jumps again to its default (and knee-jerk) position of blaming the cops. Have you even considered whether the fact of the 5th largest snow storm in DC history (with city workers largely on leave, and huge numbers of streets impassable) might have made it unlikely that a specialized team could have gotten there in any reasonable time?

    (Or, for that matter, have City Paper editors considered what they would do if they were faced with a knife-wielding man charging at them? Of course, that too is an unlikely scenario -- it would require the City Paper editor to change out of his pajamas, put down his hot cocoa, get out of his home office, and do something useful to other people...)

    Let's hope that, like the City Paper's Pershing Park obsession, this, too, will lead to a large lawsuit that can take money away from our public schools and put it into lawyers' hands. Lord knows those children are getting too much of an education already! Good job, Cherkis -- good job!

  • Keith Jarrell

    You should be glad that the city paper is there to report these incidents. Otherwise they might well be swept under the rug and none of us would ever know. Getting down to the basics, MPD is terribly under trained in handling this type of call. They have sought the expertise of the Department of Mental Health which is vastly under trained and unqualified to 1) handle this calls, and 2) very much lacking the experience to train the MPD to do so. Outside was strongly suggested but not considered. The really stifling part of this equation is the number 2 Psychiatric Department in the country at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore and the city is just too proud or too dumb to consult them and get them to do the proper training. Pride sometimes causes you to go blind or just walk head on into traffic. Who knows!
    Nonetheless, we have yet another incident that likely could well have been avoided or at least a serious injury of an innocent person that needed help but instead got shot!
    When are we going to learn?

  • Truth Hurts

    @ fedup: Quote the excerpts from CP's blog where you claim it "jumps to its default postion of blaming the cops". Why are you so upset that CP is asking appropriate questions? I'm thinking you're the biased one; do you or a relative work for MPD?

  • Downtown rez

    I'm no Cherkis fan- among other issues I sense he has, it seems he does harbor a reflexive distrust for the police- but I don't see that this post or the questions it raises crosses any sort of line.

  • CityPaperReader

    "among other issues I sense [Cherkis] has, it seems he does harbors a reflective distrust for the police."

    In other words, he is a dogged reporter covering police issues.

    That "reflexive distrust" surely distinguishes Cherkis from the WaPo reporters on the police beat.

    It keeps me reading the City Paper.

  • Rick Mangus

    To all you critics of the police, what were they to do give him a box of candy. The way I see it this guy was suicidal so her almost got his wish.

    'sedcdude' your statement proves one thing, that you are a STUPID RACIST MORON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Liberal

    Cops are the the bottom of the food chain. I don't mean that like it sounds. If things are wrong with equipment, training, policy, etc. getting to the root of the problem is not blasting some kid or veteran who may be doing the best they can. Do you think some cop working a beat can just say, "hey I think we ought to have a policy whereby any time...". If something went wrong, whether someone at the bottom is accountable or not, the politicians and managers are responsible. Quit worrying whether some guy with a badge has more authority than you. Worry about whether people above him give him what he needs or remove him if he doesn't belong.

    Yes, this story is "knee jerk" and does not dig deep enough and asks the wrong questions at the wrong time. Alienating every cop in DC is not going to get Cherkis anywhere closer to the truth. Was there some truth that came out from Pershing Park from cops? Maybe this journalist is riding on some past success and needs a reality check.

    Bashing street cops is not going to make a difference. It is just going to get cheers from people who have authority issues (and studies show these are the very people who let authority go to their head when they have it). Peace.

  • sedcdude

    Hey Ricky I'm black, I CAN'T BE RACIST! idiot!!!

  • Rick Mangus

    'sedcdude' don't give that line of shit, "I'm black, I CAN'T BE RACIST" there are plenty of black bigots in DC and many on this site, like you! So go sell that line of shit, because of our past and I'm not en-powered to be racist to people as stupid as you!

  • sedcdude

    FUCK you Ricky Bobby, I'm black and can't be racist! You are on your own and I understand that YOUR MISERY WANTS COMPANY!

  • Truth hurts

    Another thread with a handful of thoughtful commenters gradually being overtaken by extremists on both sides. Thoughtful commenters are asking questions in the hope of generating detailed factual answers. When, and if, those facts come out, we can intelligently judge whether this police shooting was justified. Many comments suggest that the posters don't need/want details beyond a generic MPD press release. What a shame.