West Seattle man in the hospital after third police call in 24 hours

September 6, 2012 at 7:23 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle police | 28 Comments

7:23 AM: A man in his 30s, described by police as “mentally ill,” is in the hospital this morning after police used Tasers to try to subdue him early today during their third run-in with him in 24 hours, according to SPD Blotter. The first incident happened early Wednesday at the 35th/Avalon 7-11; the second, Wednesday night at the man’s apartment in the 3200 block of Harbor SW, and though police say that one ended with the man being “involuntarily committed … for a mental-health evaluation at an area hospital,” six and a half hours later, he was back at the apartment building, and reportedly on a vandalism rampage in the building with a sword. Police say he ignored orders to drop it, moved toward them, and that’s when the report says they “tased” him – three times – and that didn’t subdue him, but he “eventually went down and was motionless,” at which time they started CPR. The SPD Blotter report from this morning has full details.

7:49 AM: Just asked Seattle Police spokesperson Det. Mark Jamieson a few followup questions. Regarding why the man was back at his apartment so soon after being sent to a hospital to be committed for a mental-health evaluation, he says police could only recommend “involuntary commitment” – the decision was up to the hospital (Highline, with which we will check next). He also confirmed that no officers were hurt, and that the man had regained a pulse (after CPR) and is still alive at last report.

28 Comments

  1. This guy obviously needs help. What I don’t understand is why he was let go after being involuntary committed? After destroying 7-11 and thinking there were people under his bed how could they not think he was a danger to himself and others? I commend the police for using tasers instead of more deadly force which they could have since he was coming at them with a sword. Let’s hope this guy gets some much needed help.

    Comment by Jennifer — 7:33 am September 6, 2012 #

  2. Jennifer – That was my question too; I just called police with a few followups and they’re not sure why he was out so soon either, so I in turn will have to check with the hospital (Highline, in this case, police say, though now he is at Harborview), if they are able to comment. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 7:49 am September 6, 2012 #

  3. I am not a major fan of involuntary commitment, but sometimes it is necessary for the safety of the individual and/or others. The lack of responsive resources that frequently prevents the situation from deteriorating to that point is fodder for a different discussion. Police officers, however, cannot involuntarily commit somebody even if they believe it is necessary. They can only transport somebody to the hospital where they will be evaluated by a designated mental health professional, by law the only person who can determine if the person meets the criteria for a 72 hour involuntary commitment. So maybe the question here should be why the MHP felt he didn’t meet the criteria. Due to privacy regulations you won’t get an answer in this particular case, but maybe that is a conversation that should be happening. Armchair quarterbacking based upon this information would make it seem like he should have been. But just for accuracy’s sake, the police cannot do.it.

    Comment by littlebrowndog — 7:54 am September 6, 2012 #

  4. Wonder if that’s the same guy that got kicked off the (128) bus yesterday? He was sitting in the center of the bus and just before taking off, the guy walked to the back of the bus and threatened the passengers. Then he specifically pointed at me to apologize. Thanked the bus driver for taking that action. All of us in the back were just beside ourselves.

    Comment by Km — 7:58 am September 6, 2012 #

  5. I’m really glad to hear that SPD used an alternative weapon to bring him down.

    Comment by Amanda — 7:58 am September 6, 2012 #

  6. Great job babe..;0)

    Comment by jeanette — 8:01 am September 6, 2012 #

  7. Highline does not have any facility for commitment. They do have 2 ER rooms that are for mental health patients, but if the patient is deemed needing to be committed, they then need to be transported to a facitilty that can handle patients that are needing this service. Harborview is generally the location that is used when someone is Involuntary.

    Comment by coffee — 8:08 am September 6, 2012 #

  8. We had a neighbor that was having similar issues once. He was fairly new to the area so none of us really knew what he was like. The trouble began at night with him banging the walls and yelling at the top of his lungs. Throughout the following weeks the situation got worse with his behavior becoming more aggressive and violent. He ended up being picked up by health services after he was found standing on a downtown corner in the rain for hours. It turned out he had a brain tumor. You just never know.

    Comment by Neighbor — 8:40 am September 6, 2012 #

  9. Just go to downtown and walk betweeen Mcydees and Walgreens on third Avenue Its a a whirlwind of mentally ill patients,drug addicta,alcoholics,gangstahs, pimps, its all there. I saw MID escalate a situation with a mentally ill person for being aggressive outside Kress. He was loud and all but never made a personal threat to anyone. In five minutes three squad cars zoomed in and pinned him to the ground. He was obviously mental. Police do not know how to handle these types.They only know how to use force to subdue. So sad…

    Comment by jujumysweet — 8:44 am September 6, 2012 #

  10. The MHP (psychiatrist) at Harborview may recommend involuntary commitment but if the person has no insurance then King County has to approve the involuntary commitment. County MHP’s don’t always agree. And if they do, often the floor is already full. There are private psych hospitals (Navos here in WS) that can help, but they are often full, too.

    Comment by Mental Health Matters — 8:46 am September 6, 2012 #

  11. What @coffee said. The staff can’t do much if the patient convincingly (which is the key word) denies being a threat to self, and others, and is otherwise refusing help. Granted, specifics aren’t yet known, but this is generally what is seen in mental health. It’s hard to say where things fell through exactly, but I have a feeling that the “system” is likely the reason that this man was released, sadly.

    Comment by interrobang — 8:59 am September 6, 2012 #

  12. I work in the system. It is failing badly, in large part to dwindling funds. That man should have been moved to HMC for evaluation and treatment. Maybe he didn’t have the right med coupon, maybe they were understaffed at Highline. It is very lucky no people were harmed due to this outburst.

    I wish the man luck, and hope he gets the care he clearly needs.

    Comment by EPanther — 9:58 am September 6, 2012 #

  13. I am so glad to see people are not being cruel or completely ignorant on this story today. It’s good to see we are all getting a little smarter about mental illness, myself included.

    Comment by NotMe — 10:00 am September 6, 2012 #

  14. Given what this story says, this appears to be a case of ‘excited delerium’. This can be brought on by cocaine OD amongst other things. WSB, you should ask SPD for a comment on that possibility. Good job to the officers who stopped this guy before be could kill anyone (including himself)

    Comment by Kermit — 10:05 am September 6, 2012 #

  15. Unless you work in the ER or Mental Health field you don’t understand the involuntary commitment process. It’s very difficult to commit someone. You can’t just lock up any crazy guy high on the streets. They have to be actively expressing intent or a plan to harm self or others. Obviously the ER didn’t have grounds so released him. Question is why didn’t the PD arrest him with first contact when he was destroying property! The PD way too often bring the ER violent patients who need to be in jail and not ER or psych hospital.

    Comment by Susie — 12:19 pm September 6, 2012 #

  16. “In five minutes three squad cars zoomed in and pinned him to the ground. He was obviously mental. Police do not know how to handle these types.They only know how to use force to subdue. So sad…”
    .
    That’s because in ten short seconds a person in that state can unpredicatably escalate their violence/aggression and pull out a knife or some other weapon and start attacking people. As “sad” as you think it is, there is -no- time for police to attempt to reason with people in that state. The guy on Harbor Ave was lucky he got tasered three times, and not shot at first! THAT was restraint on the repsonding officers’ part. But of course, you’ll never hear the praise or see headlines for that.

    Comment by Jason — 12:46 pm September 6, 2012 #

  17. Thank you, Susie. This seems to be a problem with law enforcement officers who dump suspected criminals with mental health issues at the emergency department of the nearest hospital, and then do not return to claim the individual when the hospital medically clears that person, leaving no choice but to release.

    Comment by Sean — 1:02 pm September 6, 2012 #

  18. MHPs are not doctors, and there is no state certification required to be an MHP. MHPs have a long history of turning loose dangerous lunatics on the public, and there has been no real accountability for these decisions.
    .
    Even in a best-case scenario, a dangerous lunatic can only be committed involuntarily by an MHP for a maximum of 72 hours. Longer commitment requires sentencing in “mental health court,” where the maximum involuntary commitment is 3 months.
    .
    They very maximum someone can be committed in WA state is 6 months, and that requires additional decision in “mental health court.”

    Comment by JoAnne — 2:38 pm September 6, 2012 #

  19. Yeah…. He lives in my building..

    Comment by Elizabeth — 3:25 pm September 6, 2012 #

  20. Thank you, Susie. This seems to be a problem with law enforcement officers who dump suspected criminals with mental health issues at the emergency department of the nearest hospital, and then do not return to claim the individual when the hospital medically clears that person, leaving no choice but to release.

    @Sean…

    Take some time to educate yourself before you post. As far as cops returning to pick them up after they’ve been medically cleared, think about that for a second. Police officers request a mental evaluation. If the MHPs treat ‘me and street ‘em, that’s on them, not the cops. And don’t mix apples and oranges…mental clearance and medical clearance are two different things. And MHPs don’t release dangerous mentally ill people because there’s no cop there to collect them. If they can be held on a 72 hour involuntary hold, they are (sometimes). At that point, the torch has been passed in the system, despite your ignorance about the role of police in such matters. If the person in question is also a criminal, there is a hold placed on them at the hospital, and when they are cleared by MHPs or docs, the cops come back and escort them to jail.

    Comment by Kermit — 7:41 pm September 6, 2012 #

  21. As Americans have no universal health care & are increasingly on their own when it comes to paying for medical services, police and citizens will be dealing with these incidents more & more frequently. It’s not the cops’ fault, it’s not the ER’s fault…it’s on us for believing in the capitalist hype

    Comment by Marcus M — 9:43 pm September 6, 2012 #

  22. Amen Marcus M ! Well said.

    Comment by anon — 9:14 am September 7, 2012 #

  23. Just spend a day in a local ER and you will see what the PD bring in and dump off. Cases where it’s clearly a violent criminal or drug and alcohol incident. You can’t force someone into detox by bringing them to th ER when found drunk in public! Many of these folks are at their baseline and not meeting criteria for commitment so that’s why they get released. PD are obviously not educated enough on Mental Health system.

    Comment by Susie — 9:40 am September 7, 2012 #

  24. I agree with with Susie & Sean.

    Kermit, while I understand what you’re saying, this person was in the act of vandalizing property both times he was taken in….so after being medically, mentally cleared – he should have been picked up and charged for destruction of property.

    I also agree with Jason – the police showed admirable restraint in not shooting him when he came at them with a sword!

    At Elizabeth – I am so sorry you have to put up with this man.

    Comment by Ms. Sparkles — 3:38 pm September 7, 2012 #

  25. He has passed away from being tazed…he was a close friend of mine and he definitely was not a mental patient…he drove a BMW and had his own paid off condo…something was wrong and what the SPD did took his life so please instead of judging make sure you know the facts…he was well liked and was a kind person….something must have caused this incident so please reserve your opinions somewhere else!

    Comment by Aaron — 6:45 pm September 11, 2012 #

  26. Aaron, we are sorry to hear about your friend. I will look into the reports of the incident. I don’t know your friend’s name, which will make it more difficult to investigate, but if you are interested in e-mailing us that information, our address is editor@westseattleblog.com and we don’t need to attribute it to you – Tracy (editor)

    Comment by WSB — 7:10 pm September 11, 2012 #

  27. Aaron, he passed away from refusing to come off massive doses of steroids for years straight (even with an existing liver condition) Taking Oxycontin for the last 4 years every day, and doing cocaine at least 3 times a week. His black BMW and condo and drug habit was supported by money from his family, He blew $350,000 in less than a year, and was most definitely majorly mentally unstable. These are the facts.

    Comment by Anon — 5:28 am September 12, 2012 #

  28. What a lot of you fail to realize is the media only tells you part of the story. In ALL cases you see on the news there’s ALWAYS missing pieces. You can judge the police all you want and say they’re doing things wrong but they’re trained to go towards situations you as a civilian would run from. If there’s a situation with any weapon involved they have to do what’s best for their safety and the civilians nearby. They have to assume the person would stab them if they got close enough to try and restrain them, if they do try to overpower the person without using any weapons you’d end up seeing it on the news with people claiming the police assaulted some “innocent person” using excessive force. With all that being said, I knew, Michael (the man who was tazed). He was not mentally ill and he did pass away at Habor View a few days later. I’m not sure why he was acting mentally unstable but he has never had any “mental health” issues in his past and he didn’t have any type of criminal record so before you go passing judgment remember YOU don’t really know the whole story. R.I.P Michael, you’ll be missed.

    Comment by ~Ms.Jones — 6:37 pm September 13, 2012 #

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