Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thoughts on Monday night's tragedy (Update in comments section)

I didn't sleep so well last night. There are some images that will never leave my memory, good and bad. The image of Brian's lifeless body drenched in blood will forever be etched in my mind. It was like some kind of sick tape loop playing over and over in my head last night. He never threatened anybody else's life but his own and he didn't seem like he was really going to do it. It just seemed like he was angry about losing control of his life and he wanted people to know that he felt screwed over. I have no idea what was in the police's play book that called for an all out assault. I have never seen anything like what happened that night in my whole life. It was straight out of some kind of hideous war scene or Faces of Death, only it happened in front of my own eyes and not on the screen. I don't know how cops can go home at night and sleep, ever. How can you get used to that stuff?

Why did the police say that he was still alive when it was later confirmed that he was, in fact, dead within a minute of being shot? That's another thing; the scanner that the reporters had going on picked up the police saying that he had shot himself in the chest. Because of the flash bangs, tear gas, and pepper balls, it was hard for us to see the actual shooting--who shot what, not to mention total disbelief. I was confused and horrified along with others who did not have a financial stake in getting a good shot or a juicy story.

I climbed up onto the office complex roof to peer down just moments after the shot. I wasn't supposed to be there, but I got a clear look. Things were pretty goofy. They tazed him. He was already dead. WTF? That's some pretty sick fucking stuff to see people taze a dead man. Now the cops aren't saying shit. The area is now cordoned off by the police. Now they are saying that they are not positive if he shot himself. I heard them say it over the scanner that he did. What are they not sure of? I hope they are forthcomming with their findings. Also, for a guy in condition Delta, they seemed to be a bit on the slow side on hauling him off. I really think the cover up there was to not upset those of us public who were witness to the incident.

Pick anybody in your life that you know. Somebody that you know well enough, but not necesarilly close to you. Now think of this: you will someday witness the exact moment of that person's gruesome death. Man, my head is freaking out going back in time and thinking of what interactions I had with him and never knowing what the cosmos had in store, that I would be there to see his last stand.

I'm doing alright. There's just a sick pit in my stomach over the whole situation. Brian had the power to stop it, I guess. One of the press photographers got a shot of him earlier in the day where he had stepped out of the truck with a gun to his head. His face was absolutely demonic--totally not like him. He seemed like he was outside of his own body. Where is a person when they are in that state of mind and situation? I could see my spirit floating above trying to figure out how to operate my body by remote, but only getting thwarted by some kind of primal override. Or is it a hyper-reality that one goes into...such focus that one becomes so single minded that there is no grounds for negotiation?

Please, no sympathy comments. I am interested in what you have to think about these situations and how the police handle them. Probably the police carried out their policy to the tee and it's just the policy that needs review and fixing. I don't know enough about that, I guess.

Is this forced suicide?


Julie Schuler said...

yeah, it sounds like suicide by cop. Polics are going nuts all over the place with those tasers, too. I think it was near here, around Pittsburgh, they tased a minor, a boy, who had fallen or jumped from a bridge and was laying on the ground with a broken back- because he did not "comply" as they approached him, wtf? He was unconscious.
I get more and more angry about a lot of things. How do people get help for mental health issues when they can't get a routine physical? And I've been thinking about this economic nosedive. Most people go into debt when they have health issues. Whether they have insurance or not, some of that balance ends up on credit cards, when credit gets cinched up tight- as it will- what will happen then? Will you get the bums' rush, same as if you tried to use an over-the-limit card in a restaurant? Seems like nationalized health care should be one of the stipulations of this bailout. But I could bend your ear all day with stuff I think, I'll mercifully end it here.

Crystal said...

cops are people too. they are not infallible. people like us are not in professions where we put ourselves in danger every day. most likely, we don't go to work thinking we may not see our families again. we don't go to work thinking someone is going to get emotional and start waving a gun around in our faces and the faces of the innocent around them (not referring to Brian - don't know his whole story) sure, there are bad cops - just like there are bad doctors, bad lawyers, bad people - but, for the most part, they are here to keep us safe and judging by how we can get through most days without tragic events, i think they are doing their job.

i know i will probably be on the other side of the coin than most people about this. i just think people are so quick to try to assign blame when someone dies. it's easy to blame the cops.

every situation is different. it is a damn shame that the community lost Brian, and hopefully if anything did go wrong regarding police procedures, it will be uncovered and dealt with properly. but that's not bringing Brian back and really, God is the only one who knows. He is the only one who will judge at the end.

look at me all tawkin bout God and stuff. you think i'd have morals or sumpin!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to NOT agree with Julie. Listen, it was a stressful situation... for everyone! But your friend, from what we discussed, he may have been a nice guy, but a nice guy with a serious glitch. It doesn't make it easier, but it's a reason. People have choice. Yes, mental illness may be involved, and I'm sure that the tear gas and swarming police heightened the stress levels an insane amount. But the fact is is that as a result of a number of choices, your friend got himself into that situation. There were a number of times that he could have made a different decision and there could have been a turning point that didn't have such a sad ending. But that's the thing about life, everyone has choice.

Don't get me wrong... as a surviving sibling of someone who took his life, I understand and empathize, and I am not making light of things, but the truth is is that his death was a result of his choices. Could the cops have done something different? I'm sure they could have, but would it have yielded a different result? Who knows. And I wouldn't get to caught up in the idea of a cover up. There were probably 100+ police, firefighters, ambulance workers, etc there. It can get hectic. You saw what happened. You know. And for them working on his body... If it were my son or dad, I'd want them to at least try. Enough said.

NYD said...

I know that I wasn't there and don't know anything exept what you have told us, but my opinion, simply put, runs along these lines: the guy had a gun.
A man with a gun, (you definitely know what those things are capable of doing, right?) even if he is pointing it at himself is an dangerous thing. Couple that with extreme agitation and you've got a really shitty situation that could go off in any direction. Sometimes folks do themselves, sometimes they try to take others with them.
If I were a police officer not only would I not take any chances I'd have to taser the man until I were certain it was safe for me. Not only because I cherish my life above some guy with a pistol, but also because I want to go home to my wife and kids.

Anonymous said...

Like Crystal said, cops tend to get blamed for alot of things when situations go bad or don't end up like we'd like them to. Not talking about you and this situation - just in general. If there was wrong done in this situation, for Brian's sake and your sake, I truly hope it comes to light and is fixed.

"Brian had the power to stop it, I guess." That really is the bottom line, although who knows if he was in the state of mind where he could have stopped it. But if someone has a gun, the cops will never, ever assume they're only going to use it on themselves and no one else. They'll do their best to keep that gun from being used on the person who has it, innocent bystanders and the cops themselves. Sometimes they're successful, sometimes they aren't. But they put their lives on the line every day, and I wouldn't want to be in their shoes for one minute.

Megatropolis talked about choices. The sobering thing about choices is that we all have complete control over the choices we make. What we don't have control over is the consequences of those choices and sometimes the consequences they bring are heartbreaking. Leigh

The Grunt said...

Thanks for your comments. Keep them coming!

I found out this morning that he allegedly fired his gun but not at himself. It was one of the officers that shot him in the chest. I and others around me only heard the one shot. I'm guessing that he fired the gun to push the police's hand. He must've fired it when a grenade went off and then the last shot heard was the officer's. So, it was suicide by cop. The police thought that negotiations were breaking down and that they could take him out without lethal force. The thing to remember is that he knew a lot of the cops there as well and was being friends with them. Man, people on both sides of this situation are hit hard by this. I think suicide is an extremely selfish act.

The police were patient for 11 1/2 hours. They are not perfect. It had to end somehow. Most of us had a feeling that it was going to end in death. Sad.

Red Flashlight said...

Police have an incredibly hard job. They are underpaid, overworked, mistrusted, unappreciated, and are asked to go out and babysit populations in dire need of babysitting. So they do the wrong thing more often than we like. A lot of what they do is merely designed to intimidate. It's sad. Don't get me wrong - the majority of time they can fix problems just by showing up and being the adult in the situation. But the skills they develop to help them survive in those situations are often not completely legal, or even allowed under department policy. This particular situation sounds like the worst possible for the police. Since they were obviously in the public eye they had to do everything by the book: no short-cuts. And isn't "the book" kind of zany these days, in this post 9/11 world? Zany because over-reaction is always mandated? The Brian-that-might-have-been in the year 2018 could easily have been a happy, healthy person. Why not deploy a sharpshooter and a tranquilizer dart? Sad.

NYD said...

Hey, Grunt. I know that you are being hit kinda hard by this and it just doesn't seem to make sense - it never really will.

But if you have the time, go down to the local library and check out a book called 'Timequake' - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
He makes pretty good sense of human foolishness without being to serious (understatement) or self rightous.

Good luck, my friend.

Outdoorsy Girl said...

The whole tragedy just turns my stomach. Standing here on the outside, I have mixed feelings about it. I am certainly not blaming the police, but I have never understood the whole thing with police surrounding a suicidal person with guns pointing at them. I suppose it is to prevent someone clearly not in their right mind from harming someone else.

On the other side of the fence, it seems that if you TRULY want your life to end, you would end it immediately rather than allowing it to turn into a standoff with police. It seems that Brian was seeking help in the most desperate way possible until he backed himself into a position that he didn't know how to get out of. I have also wondered if your "right" mind completely leaves you and some other force takes over your actions. It would seem that way because most suicide victims seem to be the most unlikely people to kill themselves. It leaves us shocked.

I have no idea whether the police handled the situation in an appropriate manner or not, but without a doubt, it was Brian's actions that led to his death.

Very, very sad story.

Chandra said...

I don't know if this will make any type of sense, but I will attempt to muddle through.... Suicide in my eyes can ONLY be when a person kills themselves. I don't believe that suicide by cop exists. They shot him, whether in their eyes determined him a danger to the public or danger to himself.

While none of us may ever know the tragic events regarding his wife and job, I can only fathom that he was devastated. But obviously it was enough for him to consider ending his life.

For some people suicide may seem selfish and you have every right to make that decision, just as each person has their own choices about abortion for example. For those who are suffering many see suicide as a way out, and one of those reasons could be because they believe they have nothing to lose, nothing to live for, or the wish to end a lot of pain. While I myself have never put a gun to myself, I have tried to end my own life and it was not to be selfish in any regard. It was truly because I thought that no one cared, and no one would miss me and my environment at that time, proved that to be true unfortunately.

After all is said and done, as it has been stated, he had a gun, in his feelings of mental health, there is obviously the chance he may have changed his mind and attempted to hurt others in his fragile state.

I hope that U.S does have a good health care system that does help those with mental health issues? Depression is looked down upon so much in a society, when those people who validate their feelings should be accepted and helped. The first step (and hardest) is admitting there is a problem.

The Grunt said...

Further update: I talked to a firefighter that said that Brian was becoming paranoid and was convinced that his wife was sleeping around. There have been several domestic disturbance calls to his home and in April of this year there was a situation where he had holed himself up in his truck, but without guns, when police came. He was on probation, according to this friend of his, so he was looking at prison, not jail, with this current incident. It seemed as though a lot of shit came to a head for this guy and he was probably psychologically deteriorating for some time. There was no suicide. The city is angry at SLC S.W.A.T for their aggressiveness. It seemed that too many cooks were in the kitchen--too many outside departments getting in on the action.

The good news is that I've been able to confirm that some of the news reporters are even hotter in person than on TV. Wowee Zowee!

NYD, thanks for the book recommendation. I've been meaning to read some Vonnegut.

Julie Schuler said...

Speaking of inept moments by S.W.A.T. (and I know how my last comment sounds, but I really do support law enforcement and wouldn't want to do their jobs for one day under any circumstances) I was on jury duty for a similar stand-off type incident, very gladly, no one was killed, but several people had some lead dug out of them. The S.W.A.T. forces were lining up on some hallway stairs, and at the crucial moment, when they were to bust into the upstairs bedroom, they all fell domino-style backwards down the steps.

Christielli said...

Such a tragedy. I don't really have much insight into police procedures though.

Last year, we had a couple incidents in Canada where RCMP officers killed people with tasers, including a man at an airport who was merely confused and not violent at all. These types of things are always disheartening.

Even though you said no sympathy, you know you have mine.

Keshi said...

I hate to even imagine a 'forced' suicide..thats CRUEL!


Karyn said...

I had a friend who was murdered. I didn't watch her die, but a few of us were called and taken by the police to the scene where her body was to help try to identify her as she had been... let's just say rendered unrecognizable.

There is some shit you can't unsee or unknow once you've had to see it or know it, and you're just not the same afterwards. How could you be?

You can compare everyone's tragedies one against the other, and analyze the sitch and wonder until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, you lost a friend and that's sad. Bottom line here for me.