Editorials

We know too little about ‘suicide by cop’

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

An Arlington policeman walks past the white Dodge sedan that a suspect car-jacked and abandoned near Shady Valley Drive in Arlington, TX, Saturday, July 15, 2017. A suspect car-jacked the car, lost control and fled on foot, carrying a weapon. The suspect, who was wearing a mask and body armor, was shot by police, says Lt. Christopher Cook.
An Arlington policeman walks past the white Dodge sedan that a suspect car-jacked and abandoned near Shady Valley Drive in Arlington, TX, Saturday, July 15, 2017. A suspect car-jacked the car, lost control and fled on foot, carrying a weapon. The suspect, who was wearing a mask and body armor, was shot by police, says Lt. Christopher Cook. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

A scary carjacking incident that ended in the suspect’s death illustrates a seemingly growing instance of possible police-assisted suicide — a heartbreaking issue many officers have to unfortunately face.

After stealing a car at gunpoint in Arlington, the carjacker was pursued into an apartment complex by Arlington Police Department officers.

The man exited the vehicle and violently attempted entering residences — most likely connected to a domestic disturbance already involving him.

Police tried to negotiate with him, but the man, wearing body armor and mask while brandishing a handgun, started screaming “shoot me” at the police.

According to the Arlington Lt. Christopher Cook, an officer discharged a weapon and killed the man during an encounter.

“The suspect forced our hand in this encounter,” Cook told the Star-Telegram.

The police did their job and kept a volatile, violent individual from harming other people. They kept the peace in the neighborhood, securing the residents and the other members of the aforementioned domestic disturbance.

They were heroes. But because of the actions of the carjacker — one officer will have to live with the burden of killing a man.

Suicide in any form is an alarming and serious issue, but the so-called “suicide by cop” forces the hand of an innocent stranger to commit the fatal act.

And it’s hard to find help, or information for that matter, on these police-assisted suicides.

In one incident in 2001, a woman drew a gun on an unsuspecting Los Angeles deputy sheriff. The officer, Glenn Vincent, ultimately shot and killed the women.

Later they found a note in her car, saying “I’m so very sorry for pulling innocent people into this. I just didn’t have the nerve to pull the trigger myself.”

There are two victims in a “suicide by cop” — and one has to live with the consequences.

More public awareness and study must be done to provide better training and resources for our officers.

They shouldn’t have to carry the burden of someone else’s turmoil.

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