On Friday November 15, 2013, at approximately 8:30 a.m., Central Precinct officers responded to the Whole Foods located at 1210 Northwest Couch Street on the report of man armed with knives threatening people in grocery store.
Several officers and a sergeant responded to the store and were able to observe the 47-year-old man, armed with knives, standing in a grocery aisle. There were several store employees and customers in the grocery store at the time officers first observed the armed man.
The sergeant at the scene immediately recognized the armed man from prior contacts, including one contact where the man was wearing a tactical vest and a pistol in a shoulder holster (later found to be a replica firearm). The sergeant also knew that the man was struggling with significant mental health issues.
While some officers took a position behind the man at the end of the aisle to prevent any customers or employees from encountering the man, other officers and the sergeant began addressing him from the other side of the aisle.
Officers talking with the man knew his name and used it as they slowly and calmly gave him clear and repeated instructions to put down the knives. The man refused to drop the knives as officer continuously repeated commands to put them on the ground. Concerned for the safety of other customers and for man himself, officers told the man several times that he may be Tased if he did not drop the knives.
Officers talked with the man for several minutes before the sergeant deployed the Taser, which caused the man to drop the knives and fall to the ground. As officers were attempting to get control of the man, he rolled around on the ground and struggling with officers. Due to his continuing struggle, his swatting and grabbing at the Taser probes and putting his hands underneath his body, three additional Taser cycles were needed to safely gain control of the man and put him into handcuffs.
During the struggle, the man suffered a bloody nose while on the ground. Medical personnel responded to the scene, checked his injury, then cleared him for police transport. Officers walked the man out to a waiting patrol car where he again briefly struggled with officers before being placed into the car.
Officers learned from store employees that they witnessed the man shoplifting prior to him grabbing knives from a display rack inside the store and telling store employees that he was not going to leave after being asked to by employees.
A member of the community recorded part of the interaction with the man and posted a video to YouTube, which can be seen here: http://youtu.be/lGbIzg0t8gQ . The video is 8 minutes 38 seconds long and does contain some foul language and gestures by the person recording the video.
The man was given criminal citations for Menacing and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree then taken to a Portland hospital on a Police Officer Hold for a mental health evaluation.
The Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) will be conducting follow-up with the man
As in all police uses-of-force, the incident will be thoroughly reviewed and investigated to ensure that Portland Police Bureau policies and procedures were followed.
Help is available for community members struggling from a mental health crisis and/or suicidal thoughts. Suicide is preventable.