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On October 21st, 2014, Jose Calzada, a 35 year old resident of Roy, Utah, was shot to death by a SWAT team after calling a suicide hotline for help:

Jose Calzada called the hotline around 4 a.m. on Tuesday threatening to kill himself inside the home he shared with his girlfriend and her children.

Shortly afterwards, dispatchers in Weber County sent the officers to the residence. The other residents in the home left after the call was placed.

After police arrived, police spokesperson Matthew Gwynn said:

A SWAT negotiator spoke with Calzada for about seven hours before the talks “failed.” [Calzada] was shot and killed around 11:15 a.m.

Ron Smith, one of his neighbors, heard the shooting:

It seemed like there was one shot, and then a pause, and then four or five shots after that, that were very rapid… The pause after the first shot was really brief. After that I went inside and shut the door.

Police encourage those who are feeling suicidal to reach out for help:

We encourage those having suicidal thoughts or tendencies to contact a physician or expert that can talk them through it

And yet, when Jose Calzado did exactly that, a SWAT team showed up and shot him. The police department that killed him described Calzado’s death “unfortunate” and “sad.” A better word would be predictable.

A quick scan of the headlines shows that this story unfolds frequently all across the country. There is the story of Keith Vidal, a schizophrenic teenager that was shot while wielding a screwdriver:

Vidal had apparently picked up a small screwdriver — small enough that it couldn’t have caused serious harm, his family says, but enough that they sought law enforcement assistance. Three different police departments’ officers arrived at the scene. The first two were able to restrain Vidal and calm him down, according to Vidal’s father. But then a third entered, and that’s when he says things went sour.

He says the third officer tased Vidal, knocking the 90-pound teenager to the ground. The officer then allegedly stepped forward with a firearm and said, “we don’t have time for this,” before shooting the teen dead.

There was the suicidal, unarmed Kansas City teen that cops shot 16 times while his family begged them not to. When questioned about the incident, the local police chief, Dennis Butler said the officers “did what they were trained to do”:

They reacted based upon the training that they’ve been given from the academy… We were thankful that no officer was injured from protecting themselves from risk of great bodily harm.

Or, what about 17 year old Christian Alberto Sierra:

The Purcellville teen was in the throes of depression Saturday afternoon when he began cutting himself at a friend’s house, his mother said. The friend called 911 seeking help.

You already know what happened when the police arrived to help, right? They “reacted based up on the training they’ve been given from the academy” and Christian Alberto Sierra was shot dead. These examples go on and on.

What’s really tragic is how the families of the victims often respond with confusion and shock:

Sandra Sierra, Christian’s mother, wondered why police used such force on a teen they knew was in emotional distress, not committing a crime.

“Why would you shoot a child that is suicidal?” she asked. “You are there to save him, not finish him off.”

These families learned the hard way that thanks to the First Rule of Policing, every encounter with a cop is potentially fatal. Throw in an unstable person that is potentially armed, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

3 Responses

  1. Jesse

    It is interesting that Rebel Pundit is bringing up all these shootings by cops. Granted those incidents should have been investigated but some of the responses send up red flags to me . But you must realize this that some people want to ” Commit suicide by Cop ” because they are to chicken to do the job themselves. The cops I know do not like to be put in that position and try to come up with a solution so they don’t have to shoot. Some people don’t give them the choice. If a white man goes into a black bar and yells ” You friggin’ ” N ‘s” need to go back to Africa, probably the same thing. Death by Afro-Amercan. This is an attitude of a suicidal person that you need to see their agenda and where they want to go.

    • Rob Hustle

      Suicide by cop is a real phenomenon. However, these examples touch on instances in which families or individuals called the police to prevent the suicide from taking place. These people don’t understand that due to the way police are trained, they just might be signing a death sentence for the person they are trying to save.

      • Jesse

        What is scary Rob, is the generation is coming up to be cops that can’t socialize or talk other than texting. They don’t play cards or board games on the kitchen table any more. This used to be a good way to converse and learn things from elders and family. I bet people don’t know simple things any more like what family members favorite color is or their favorite book, or favorite food is . How do these people have skills do be a cop or share their pain when you have a depressed person ? Every one is different, you have to know what they need and how to reasonably give it to them and how to let them save face.

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