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There was a really good article in Monday's Boston Globe dealing with this subject. I would have posted it, but it's pretty lenghty. I'm no fan of The Globe, but they did a pretty decent job in explaining the stresses that we could potentially be dealing with on the street. -Stay Safe
 

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Here is the Globe article

'Suicide by cop' in Plymouth Mentally ill man's death called part of larger pattern

By Ellen Barry, Globe Staff, 10/6/2003

PLYMOUTH - It ended with wailing sirens, a shriek of crunching metal, and orders barked in the night. From the wreck of his Jeep, a figure moved toward the police officers, a 12-inch military knife unsheathed in the dark. It took only a few seconds: Three shots exploded into James Glidden's body.

The shooting appeared to be a straightforward response to an attack by a dangerous fugitive. Only later, in the light of day, did it begin to look different.

Plymouth Officer Paul Boyle had killed a 35-year-old mechanic with a disabling mental illness. Although Glidden joked about his illness - his beloved boat, long since lost to financial troubles, had been named ''The Cuckoo's Nest'' - he had fought a private battle to protect his modest life from the rage and depression that rose up every few months and washed away its foundations.

The things police found in Glidden's Jeep - a scribbled note of apology, a length of rope fashioned into a noose - suggest that his death over Labor Day weekend was more than a tragedy: It was the last in a career of standoffs between a suicidal man and law enforcement.

Police say ''suicide by cop'' is an event far more common than the public knows, even in the leafy South Shore towns where police rarely have to draw their guns. In an era when mentally ill people are released to independent lives in the community as soon as they are stabilized on medication, police have become the caregivers of first resort in a variety of psychiatric emergencies, sometimes with tragic consequences.

In the only systematic review of suicide-by-cop incidents in this country, a Harvard researcher found that 11 percent of police shootings by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department appeared to be suicides by people who set out to be shot. Police say that officers find themselves trapped, sometimes helplessly, in a fast-moving drama written by someone else.

''They lure you in,'' said Sergeant Christopher D. Delmonte of the Bridgewater Police Department, whose Special Response Team prevented an attempted suicide in mid-September. To attract police attention, the man had wandered onto a stranger's lawn, waving a gun. ''It's almost like an invitation,'' Delmonte said. ''If you stand back and look at it, they're throwing the gauntlet down.''

During the weeks that have passed since Glidden's shooting, his family has acknowledged that it is likely he set out to be shot by police. But it has not made the loss any easier.

On the day he died, Glidden had called his parents in tears at their Labor Day cookout in Plymouth, saying he was in terrible trouble and didn't know where he was. They told him to come home. It was almost midnight when he turned onto the road that led to his parents' home. A few minutes later, charging at officers, Glidden was fatally shot. He was a little more than two miles from his parents' front door.

In a basement, officers are tested

A prevous time police were called, Glidden survived.

On a December afternoon last year, two days before Glidden's 35th birthday, three officers responding to a domestic violence complaint arrived at his Medway apartment and walked into a basement room. Police reports from two officers describe a test that began the minute they stepped into the room:

''He was sitting on the stool with his head rested against a pole with the knife in each hand,'' reported Patrolman Jeffrey Watson. ''When Sgt. Rojee got close to the bottom of the stairway, Mr. Glidden advised us not to come any further. At this time Mr. Glidden took the knife in his right hand and slit his left wrist. A large amount of blood continued to flow from his wrist to the floor.''

Rojee asked Glidden to drop the knives, but when the officer made a slight movement, Glidden slit his right wrist: ''The blood from his right wrist was pulsating out of the wound. Both wounds were producing thick red blood. Mr. Glidden turned to his right and picked up a third knife and sat on the same.''

The conversation went on for 35 minutes, Rojee reports, while Glidden ''was shaking and staring down at the ground.'' Every time the officers moved, he cut himself, until four deep wounds were spurting blood and he was weak and shaking. At 3 p.m., one of the officers asked Glidden if he was thirsty. When he said he was, Rojee made a deal with him: If he threw the knives down, they would give him a drink of water.

At that, Glidden surrendered one knife without hesitation, and drank some water. ''All of a sudden, Mr. Glidden dropped both knives on the floor,'' Watson wrote. ''At this time Sgt. Rojee lunged toward him. I think (I) returned my weapon to the holster and assisted Sgt. Rojee. Mr. Glidden voluntarily walked up the stairs with no resistance.''

This was not the James Glidden his family knew. The eldest of 12 children, he was a neighborhood dreamboat, handsome and full of sparky enthusiasm. From his childhood in Hyde Park, friends surrounded him ''like he was the ice cream parlor,'' said his younger brother George Glidden, who is 34.

If anything, he was thoughtful to the point of obsessiveness. Glidden had spent much of the last year hand-finishing a 5-foot scale model of a lighthouse for his family's front yard. On each of the stones clustered around the structure's base, he had etched, with a diamond-tipped drill, the name of a relative in gothic lettering.

But there was a second, more shadowy plotline in his life. He used to see a ''mean-faced spirit'' following him around high school; his brother said, ''We used to kid about it, `Hey, Jimmy, did you see your friend today?''' By his late teens, the shadow was more menacing, and he dropped out of Army basic training for reasons he was vague about. Later, making light of it in his customary way, he told a girlfriend, Robin Moore, that he had ''tried to jump off a building without a parachute.'' He was diagnosed with depression, then with schizophrenia, then with bipolar disorder.

Interspersed with suicide attempts - friends counted at least five that led to hospitalization - were episodes of rage that led to standoffs with police. Officers waited outside while he broke furniture in a house in Quincy, rushed to a Cumberland apartment after he threatened to kill himself and his girlfriend, and arrested him when he threatened another girlfriend, seizing her by the neck when she got out of the car to calm him down. Recently the rages had been coming more frequently - every few months instead of every year, said George Glidden. Although he had never injured anyone seriously in his rages, he told Moore he was afraid he would.

Attorney Edward Sweeney defended Glidden when he was charged with assault and battery last December, after he held Moore by the throat during an argument. The episodes were clearly psychiatric events, he said, but they sent Glidden cycling in and out of the criminal justice system for petty crimes, usually when he had gone off his medications.

''The house of correction doesn't want these people,'' Sweeney said. ''Ultimately we are jailing people because of their illness.''

Glidden had ''tried so many medications and none of them worked,'' his brother George said.

Suicide ''is something I expected,'' he said. ''I expected to find him in the woods.''

To Denise Allen, a former girlfriend who lived with him for five years, Glidden once mentioned a plan to attempt suicide by cop. He said he had given up overdosing because he was so tired of the taste of charcoal, which doctors feed in a slurry form to patients who have ingested a toxic amount of medicine.

''To the officer who shot me''

In the annals of suicide-by-cop, few case studies are more haunting than the story of 19-year-old Moshe Pergament, a Long Island community college student who in 1998 left a Hallmark card on the seat of his car addressed ''To the officer who shot me.'' ''Please remember that this was all my doing,'' he wrote, according to reports at the time. ''You had no way of knowing.''

It is a drama that plays out more frequently than the press or public knows. In September, Bridgewater police used a beanbag round to disarm a 23-year-old suicidal man named Michael Mendes; early this year, Middleborough police shot and killed a 22-year-old man who had told family members he was going to force them to kill him. In Fall River, officers with beanbag rounds have responded to one man's suicidal threats six times in the last month, said officer James Machado, who is on the executive board of the Massachussetts Police Association.

''Take any day's newspaper, and it's essentially reporting the same thing over and over in different places,'' said Delmonte of the Bridgewater Police Department. ''They're playing a role, and [expecting] that we will make a mistake.''

When a Harvard researcher, Dr. H. Range Hutson, examined 46 instances of apparent suicide-by-cop shootings for a 1998 journal article, he found that ''successful'' ones shared certain earmarks: They happened quickly - the median time that elapsed from officers' arrival to the shooting was 15 minutes. Thirty-seven percent of the shootings happened within five minutes.

At the center of these events is a trick: The subjects must convince authorities that they are about to commit a crime. Mendes tried it by wandering onto a stranger's lawn waving what appeared to be a semiautomatic handgun. Brian Griffin, in Middleborough, had smashed out an upstairs window with a gun, leveled it at police, and was counting backward, slowly, from five. The Fall River man strode into a church during Sunday services, turned to face the congregation, and held a knife to his own throat, threatening to cut it, Machado said.

The subjects in Hutson's study were overwhelmingly male (98 percent) and most often despondent over a failed relationship (39 percent of cases were preceded by domestic violence and 20 percent by a painful breakup). Most, said one specialist, waver over whether they want to live or die.

''The person who quietly goes and kills himself, for the most part, is someone who just wants to die,'' said Dr. Bennett Blum, a forensic psychiatrist who coauthored Hutson's study. A person who draws police into the drama, he said, ''isn't sure whether they want to live or die. They're going to let someone else make the decision.''

Police say the first few minutes of contact with an armed suicidal person can dictate the whole interaction. A low-key, nondramatic approach slows the pace of events, wrote Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI negotiator, in a paper on the subject; lights and sirens, the adrenaline rush of confrontation with police, can stimulate the subject emotionally and physically into action. Van Zandt speaks from experience: He once spent 31/2 hours negotiating with a man barricaded inside a bank who demanded police ''execute'' him. When they didn't, the subject shot a bank teller.

Too often, police find themselves swept into a drama that they can't control.

''He's basically made up the rules,'' Blum said, ''and he's expecting other people to abide by those rules.''

The momentum of the encounters can be overwhelming. In a quarter of the shootings Hutson studied, police tried nonlethal means to overcome the subject, including beanbag rounds, tear gas, police dogs, rubber bullets, and pepper spray.

For the officers, the aftermath of such shootings can be deeply upsetting, Van Zandt said. Some find themselves questioning the most basic principles of police work.

''It's being used in a terrible way,'' Van Zandt said. ''You train your whole life - I spent 25 years putting bullets down range, thinking this is what you have to do to protect yourself, or some innocent person - and maybe you find out this is the one time you will ever use it, on some sad person who wants to die and chooses you as an executioner.''

With the number of permanent psychiatric beds in this country diminishing every year, police are encountering an ever sicker group of patients. Tingley, whose officers negotiated with James Glidden as he sliced his wrists last December, said it was not an unusual call for the Medway police.

''When you come right down to it, when these incidents occur, they're not during a working day,'' Tingley said. ''The [mentally ill people] really don't have anyone to call.''

''It was like a light switch''

At 8 a.m. on the last day of his life, Glidden's Jeep sped into the parking lot of P&L Paintball at 70 miles an hour. Mike Goodman, who had faced off against Glidden in paintball tournaments since the mid-1990s, knew something was radically wrong: Through his windshield, Glidden's face looked like ''a mask of crimson.''

It was not the face Goodman knew from the paintball world, where Glidden was well-liked and practically idolized for his mechanical ingenuity. The two had fought about a debt, and Glidden was certain Goodman had slashed two of his tires in a dog-track parking lot. (Goodman denies it.)

Now Glidden was drawing down on Goodman like the Army ranger he had trained to become, a ''military Rambo knife'' pointed toward Goodman's face. Goodman, who outweighed Glidden by 100 pounds, expected that he could throw the smaller man down. But instead, by the force of adrenaline or rage, Glidden came at him with unnatural strength: ''It was like getting hit by a brick wall.'' On the ground, Glidden pressed his forearm down on Goodman's neck and slashed at his face with the knife, yelling that he would kill him.

''I was trying to protect my chest with my ... hand, yelling, `Jimmy, I'm your friend. What the hell are you doing? Chill out,''' Goodman said. Goodman's brother-in-law managed to twist one knife out of Glidden's hand, but ''he just came at me again out of his training, in a low crouch,'' a second knife unsheathed, until Goodman was backed against a wall, completely exposed.

And then it was over.

''It was like a light switch. He stopped dead in his tracks. He resheathed the second knife. You could see his face droop. The tension, the veins relaxed,'' Goodman said. As he turned to go, Glidden said, ''You can call the cops now.''

After he disappeared, Goodman called the police, who put out an all-points bulletin for Glidden. He was wanted for assault with a deadly weapon. It was 8:40 in the morning. Over the next 14 hours, Glidden made phone calls from locations around the state; he left a long message on Moore's answering machine, telling her that what he did next would be on her conscience.

At some point, he got hold of a length of white rope and fashioned it into a noose, which investigators later found in his car, according to a report on the shooting released recently by Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz. He scribbled a note to his family on the back of a receipt from Lowe's Hardware. The note said he loved his brothers and sisters, George Glidden said.

He remained in that wandering limbo until 11:20 p.m., when a Carver police officer spotted his Jeep headed east on Route 44 and ordered him to pull over. Whether through decision or through impulse, he did not.

As the two cars raced down the road at 100 miles per hour, a Plymouth police cruiser pulled out in front of Glidden in an attempt to slow him down, according to the report from Cruz's office. Glidden veered around the cruiser, which was driven by Officer Paul Boyle, and turned onto Carver Road, the officer in close pursuit.

The stop sign at Carver Road and Summer Street comes suddenly. Glidden's car, traveling at about 65 miles per hour, hurtled into the woods and smashed into a tree, cutting deep ruts in the wood.

Boyle radioed for an ambulance and got out of his car. Standing about 20 to 25 feet away from the Jeep, he saw Glidden climb out of the car. Boyle drew his weapon. In Glidden's hand was the 12-inch KaBar knife - the black-bladed fighting knife issued to US Marines - that he had held to Goodman's neck early that morning. As Glidden walked toward him, Boyle yelled ''Drop the knife! Drop the knife! Drop the knife!''

According to Cruz's report of the incident, Glidden was yelling back, ''You're not going to get me. You'll have to shoot me.''

Glidden stepped toward Boyle, closing the distance to 12 to 15 feet, thrusting the knife ''in a menacing fashion,'' according to the report. Boyle fired two shots.

The shots ''seemed to have no effect,'' and Glidden kept coming. Boyle stepped back and yelled at Glidden to drop the knife. He shot again. Glidden, the report says, ''buckled and fell to the ground with the knife still in his hand.''

Three other officers advanced to subdue Glidden. As he struggled, Officer Kevin Manuel ''eventually pried the knife'' from his hand, and the other two handcuffed him. Then they unhandcuffed him and began giving him CPR. He was transported to Jordan Hospital and pronounced dead a short time later. An autopsy report released the next day from the state medical examiner stated that he had died from multiple gunshot wounds.

In the days after Glidden's death, flowers piled up around the tree his Jeep had dented. They also graced the lighthouse he had built in David and Martha Madeiros's front yard. Friends of Glidden's murmured incredulously about the standoff, wondering aloud if the officers really needed to use lethal force. But within the Medeiros house, there was a sad silence about their son's shooting.

''Could they have used other means? Maybe,'' said Madeiros, a 61-year-old former Marine whose father was a police officer. His wife sat beside him, her jaw clenched tightly. ''I don't expect them to come to the house and say they're sorry,'' he said.

In fact, as the weeks passed, Madeiros began worrying about another person: the officer who shot his stepson. Cruz's office ultimately identified Boyle as the shooter, and declared his use of deadly force against Glidden, ''an armed and dangerous wanted felon,'' justified.

On Sept. 28, the family scattered James Glidden's ashes in the ocean.

And there is one more thing the family is planning to do: write a letter to Boyle, expressing their sorrow, and drop it off for him at the police station. Jimmy's stepfather tried to do it, but he's passed the task on to Jimmy's sister, Julie.

She is trying to write it, she said on Friday, but she has no idea what to say.

Ellen Barry can be reached at [email protected].

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 10/6/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.
 
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