Distraught Man Dies in Exchange of Gunfire with Sheriff's Deputies


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Mark Tyson
November 24, 2003, 08:00 PM
11/24/2003 - Distraught Man Dies in Exchange of Gunfire with Sheriff's Deputies

Associated Press

PUYALLUP, Wash. (AP) -- "Suicide by cop?" Or "police-induced suicide?"

Those were the accounts given by authorities and man whose brother, a Pierce County road crew supervisor, died in an exchange of gunfire with two sheriff's deputies early Saturday morning.

As of late Sunday investigators had not determined whether Donald Thompson, 34, of Puyallup, died at his own hand or from gunshots fired by the deputies, sheriff's Detective Ed Troyer said.

"Our deputies are really upset that this happened, but under the circumstances they had no choice," Troyer said.

Thompson was despondent over his impending divorce, especially on his wedding anniversary Friday, leading his mother to call the sheriff's office late Friday night, said his brother, John Thompson, 40, of Shelton.

"This was a police-induced suicide," John Thompson said. "They came in like a herd of elephants."

He said he calmed his brother down and got him to go to bed before the deputies arrived early Saturday. They ignored him when he asked them to leave his younger brother alone and forced their way into the locked bedroom, he said.

"It was rapid fire, six, eight shots," he said. "If he had wanted to commit suicide, he could have done it when they were still outside the door."

Deputies did what they had to do, Troyer said.

"We had reports of a distraught man out in the neighborhood with a gun, that he was suicidal," Troyer said. "We just can't leave. We do that and something happens, we're in big trouble."

Two deputies, a rookie with 11 years of military police experience and a three-year sheriff's department veteran, found a suicide note and "tried to talk with him about getting help," Troyer said. "They told him he could do anything, but don't threaten them with a gun."

After the deputies talked with him for several minutes, the man pulled a semiautomatic handgun from under the bed covers and began firing, Troyer said. Deputies fired in return. Neither deputy was hurt.

"We're still trying to sort out who fired what and when," Troyer said. "We have a strong suspicion that this may have been a `suicide by cop' situation."

The deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by detectives and prosecutors, he said.

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HABU
November 24, 2003, 08:42 PM
So, if I unserstand correctly, its SOP for Stadank to barge in and blow away a distraught guy before he (maybe) hurts someone.

Cactus
November 24, 2003, 09:13 PM
It's standard policy in the Pierce County Sheriffs Dept. to respond to people who are reported as suicidal by others. Many suicidal people have been known to also kill other family members before killing themselves. This policy is as much for the protection of others as for the distraught person.

It is a very difficult position for the police. If they failed to respond after being called and the person harmed themself or others, the police would be criticized for doing nothing.

The deputies had no choice! They were fired upon and returned fire. And before anyone wants to flame me, I have known and worked with Donny for over 10 years and considered him a friend. I have been upset about it ever since I heard on Saturday. I'm angry at him for putting his family through this as well as the deputies that had to shoot him. There is a good likelyhood that the deputies knew Donny, as they worked right next door.

Donny wanted to die. He was a huge man and the two deputies could not have restraind him if he had simply wanted to fight them. The cops did their job, put your anger where it belongs!

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