Medics were handling a nearby emergency when the man, whose family says he suffered from dementia, called 911 because he suspected a prowler:
Hearing that the man was armed and apparently upset, two additional officers made their way to the man’s house. Three officers went to the man’s doorstep to talk to him. “He answered with a gun in hand,” [SPD spokesman Mark] Jamieson said. “Officers said ’drop the weapon, drop the weapon, drop the weapon,’ numerous times.” The man then ”raised the gun, pointed at cops and two officers fired,” Jamieson said.
How could we have seen this coming—that a man described by police as "very agitated" and who told dispatchers “I’ve got a gun I’m not afraid to use it” that officers needed to deescalate the situation because the suspect may be mentally ill? From the US Department of Justice's report last December:
SPD officers escalate situations and use unnecessary or excessive force when arresting individuals for minor offenses. This trend is pronounced in encounters with persons with mental illnesses or those under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is problematic because SPD estimates that 70% of use of force encounters involve these populations.
Thanks to my dad for the tip.
UPDATE: Some people are hollering in comments, so I wanna make clear up here in the post that I'm not assigning blame to cops on the scene and that officers had no option but to shoot after the man raised his weapon at them. But knowing what law enforcement knew about the suspect's state of mind and weaponry, sending three cops to the door seems to have staged a confrontation that couldn't end well. The man was secured in the house, by the sound of the article. An intervention of some sort was in order, yes, but probably by a crisis intervention team that could try to deescalate the situation before it past the point of no return.