Recently released body camera video demonstrates how Spokane Police were able to use their training and special equipment to avoid shooting a man who was trying to commit "suicide by cop."
According to the City of Spokane, the Dec. 8 incident occurred at a downtown apartment building when a man by the name of Robert allegedly began breaking windows while brandishing a knife. Officers and neighbors tried talking to Robert on the phone to calm him, but he demanded that the officers kill him. Robert refused the officers' demands to disarm himself and cursed at them.
Body cam video of the incident shows Robert coming around the corner of the door to his apartment, naked, screaming at the officers to shoot him. He charged at the group of officers with knife in hand.
A single shot rang out as an officer pulled the trigger on a 40 millimeter launcher. The launcher fires a hard piece of blue foam at the target; a less-lethal option for officers attempting to modify behavior without putting an individual or the public at greater risk. The 40 millimeter is a single shot weapon and has to be reloaded before firing another round. That’s why the officer was armed with an AR-15 in the event the less-lethal projectile failed to stop Robert’s advance.
The “blue-nose” foam round hit Robert in his pelvis, taking him to the ground. The officer who fired the launcher, Officer Kyle Yrigollen, says he was just a little more than a second away from firing his rifle that shoots very real bullets. While the Taser was ineffective, the less-lethal foam round found its mark. Officers say Robert wasn’t seriously injured and has the opportunity to get help for his problems.
Unfortunately, not all suicide-by-cop scenarios have happy endings. Charge or threaten the cops with any deadly weapon and you are very likely to get shot. Studies have shown once an attacker is within 21 feet, officers cannot draw their weapons, fire and stop the suspect’s advance before it’s too late for the cops to avoid getting injured or killed.
However, when officers have time to assemble enough manpower and special equipment, despondent people can get a second chance to recover from their mistakes.
You can watch the body cam video below:
**WARNING** This video may be disturbing to watch.
(story: Lexi Perry, Producer, KHQ.com; photo & video: City of Spokane Police Department)