Non-lethal bean bag rounds used to disarm man with knife in Grand Rapids

Posted at 1:52 PM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 17:55:09-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Grand Rapids police say they used non-lethal bean bag rounds to get a man to drop a knife after he suggested he wanted officers to kill him.

It’s a situation that could have ended in tragedy; a suicidal man, threatening police with a knife, and asking them to take his life. The scenario that could have ended with fatal shots fired. But this time, the outcome was much different.

Grand Rapids police say a 58-year-old man was begging police to come and kill him after a domestic fight at the 2100 block of Palace Ave. S.W. When officers arrived, they found the man armed with a knife. GRPD tried to talk the man down but on two separate occasions, he came out of the house with that knife and refused to drop it.

“Even though the individual was armed with a knife, the supervisor in charge decided to go with a less lethal item called a bean bag round,” said Sgt. Terry Dixon, Public Information Officer for Grand Rapids Police Department.

Instead of firing potentially deadly shots at the suspect, officers fired two bean bag rounds at the suspect before taking him into protective custody. Sgt. Dixon says that decision likely saved his life.

“This is extremely positive for the police dept. and the citizens because this individual is able to reunite with his family, and they were really happy about that,” Dixon said. “We are extremely proud of the officer’s actions. Their professionalism and training dictated how the incident was resolved in light of what is happening nationwide and in some cases locally. A very positive outcome for the police and also a positive outcome for the community itself.”

Dixon said this is a great example of how their officers are doing everything they can to save lives rather than take them. After being taken into protective custody, the suspect was taken to the hospital where he’s receiving mental health services. Police plan on releasing body camera footage as soon as possible.