Protesters interfere in man's mental health crisis, police claim
Specially-trained officers were trying to calm an armed man who was threatening to kill himself and hurt others when two crowds of protesters showed up Friday, Jan. 15.
Portland officers got the call about a man in crisis at 1 p.m. The man had reportedly jumped from a second-story window of an apartment building on Southwest Fourth Avenue, pulled out a knife and was waving it around at passing cars and people.
When officers arrived, the 30-year-old man pressed the knife to his neck and said he would kill himself if they came closer, according to police. An officer trained for such situations started talking to the man while others worked to clear the area to keep the situation calm.
Police learned the man was schizophrenic and extremely paranoid. He also threatened to hurt other people, authorities said.
After about 90 minutes of working to diffuse the situation and calm the man, police said two separate crowds of protesters showed up. Some started chanting and one person used a bullhorn. The cacophony of noise made it impossible for the trained officer to continue talking to the man.
1527 - PPB's response to a mental health crisis call in front of the Board of Trade building on SW 4th & Oak. A riot team attempts to push bystanders away while another team comes out the building using a taser. #portlandprotests #pdxprotest pic.twitter.com/8XHxJLaZbc— Clementson Supriyadi (@cdsupriyadi) January 16, 2021
Officers said they implored the crowd to stop but their energy only escalated. Most in the crowd continued even after the man's mother arrived and begged them to stop. When some of the protesters started threatening the officers, a supervisor called for backup. Officers from across the city responded to help, leaving police resources stretched incredibly thin. Police pushed some protesters to keep them back and out of the street.
Police eventually decided to distract the man with a barking K9 unit. This allowed officers to get close to him and use a Taser to prevent him from using the knife. He was taken into custody and rushed to a hospital for medical evaluation. Police said he had punctures from the Taser probes but was otherwise unharmed.
All Portland Police Bureau officers receive basic crisis intervention training. The bureau also has officers with the Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team who are the first to respond to 911 crisis calls about people with mental illness.
KOIN 6 News is a media partner of the Portland Tribune. Read their story here.
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