PORTLAND, Ore. – Video of Portland police using a stun gun on a man surfaced on the Internet and police say it shows they're doing everything they can to safely handle people with mental health issues.
Police first noticed the video (contains foul language) posted Friday afternoon after the confrontation with a man holding the knives that morning at a Whole Foods store in the Pearl District.
"Each use of force, whether it's a bean bag, a Taser or a handgun, has to be reasonable and justified," said Portland Police Bureau spokesman Pete Simpson, who reviewed the video with a KATU reporter Monday night.
At the beginning of the video, several officers confront the man. The sergeant at the scene called the man by name. It turned out the sergeant knew the man had mental health issues because of a previous incident.
Another officer was at the other end of the aisle, keeping shoppers away and ready to grab the man with the knives if he tried to escape.
The video shows the officers talking to each other, which is a new emphasis for officers to do in complex situations, Simpson said.
The officers' training also tells them a clock is ticking.
"The longer it goes, the bigger chance it is he could take off running or hurt himself or charge an officer," Simpson said. "So you're weighing all these things in your mind."
The man who recorded the video can be heard chiding officers.
"Is this the place to do this, in a supermarket?" the man said.
After more than 30 warnings to drop the knife, the sergeant fired his stun gun.
"This is your last warning, drop the knife," the sergeant told the suspect just before firing the stun gun.
"They're trying to get his arms out," said Simpson. "He's resisting that which results in an additional Taser cycle to get his arms out and get him into custody. They don't know what he has (as far as another weapon).
"I think (the officers') actions were exemplary," Simpson added.
And Simpson said to keep the cameras rolling.
"We're used to being filmed. We want people to – any chance they get, if you want to film us, film us. It's not a problem," he said.
The man had minor injuries when he was taken into custody.
Police took him to the hospital for a mental evaluation. He faces charges of disorderly conduct.
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Mental Health Resources
- The Multnomah County Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at (503) 988-4888.
- Lines for Life is available 24 hours a day at (503) 972-3456.
- Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare has an urgent walk-in clinic, open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., 7 days a week. Payment is not necessary. Call (503) 963-2575.