An off-duty detective was at his home in Orange County, NY with his children when his dog started barking at his back door. The door was open but the screen door was closed. One of his kids went to the door but was scared off by their 40-year-old neighbor who she “perceived as having an angry countenance and aggressive posture.”
The detective went to the door with his privately-owned handgun in its holster. As the storm door was opening, the neighbor swung his knife at and attempted to stab the detective. The detective fired once at the neighbor hitting him in the chest. He died at the scene. Turns out, according to the neighbor’s father, that his son was suffering several chronic mental health issues including bipolar, schizoaffective, and social anxiety disorders.
A grand jury declined to file charges against the detective. “It is clear that this off-duty detective was legally justified in using deadly physical force to avoid being attacked with a knife inside his home,” said the District Attorney.
How many of you routinely carry inside of your home? In this case, it may very well have made the difference in how this detective was able to protect himself and his family.
Without intending to stigmatize anyone, certain mentally ill conditions can cause individuals to be dangerously unpredictable as was seen in this case. De-escalation and retreat might be difficult or impossible. I have personally seen a bipolar individual go from calm, sweet and loving to scary violent in a moment, like flipping a switch. And that same individual go from that violent state to appearing perfectly normal just as fast.
I guess the takeaway here is that not every threat out there comes from a rationally thinking individual and that understanding the mental illness issues that are involved with what are sometimes called Violent Criminal Actors (not accusing this neighbor of that) could be useful for those that choose to be their own first responders.