An epidemic of suicide by police

There’s another case of a person dying at the hands of the police who were sent to check on his welfare. This time it’s Eau Claire in an apparent case of suicide by police.

The 59-year-old man had made comments about suicide and murder to an acquaintance, who called police and asked them to check on him.

They did on Saturday night and when they arrived, he was standing outside with a gun. He fled inside his home.

“He made many threats to shoot officers at the scene,” Eau Claire police Chief Gerald Staniszewski tells the Eau Claire Leader Telegram. “He refused to cooperate.”

In cases like this, it’s hard to figure out what else the police could do than what they did.

The department called in its Crisis Negotiations Team and Tactical Response Team, and talked to the man for more than two hours.

When he finally fired a shotgun at the officers, they killed him. He’s the third person killed by police in Eau Claire this year.

In Willmar over the weekend, police shot a man standing in his backyard holding a gun. He, too, was suicidal.

The circumstances surrounding the shootings will be analyzed, of course, but it’s a sure bet they’ll be declared justified, given the circumstances.

Perhaps it’s time society ask if there’s more that it can do to help prevent people from reaching this level of desperation in the first place.

Related Editorial: We know too little about ‘suicide by cop’ (Fort Worth Star Telegram)