On Friday at around 2:00 p.m. in Minneapolis, 36-year-old Travis Matthew Jordan was shot dead by police in the front yard of a home while armed with a knife. As recorded in the transcript, the 9-1-1 caller had informed the operator that Jordan was suicidal at the time. Here is an excerpt from that exchange:
Caller: Um, he’s been having a lot of suicidal thoughts because, um, depression, anxiety, but he’s not taking any pills for that. Um, he’s just taking alcohol for it. Um, today I spoke to him and he said he wanted to die, and then he sent me a text of this music video about like people committing suicide, and he said he wanted to commit suicide in his mother’s house. I called him back, asked if he was okay, he said, he was crying to me today saying he doesn’t want to live, he doesn’t even think about his future anymore, um.
Caller: I told him I was gonna call the cops, ‘cause I was really worried about him, and he threatened me and said go ahead and call the cops, I’ll talk to them when they get here.
Operator: Okay, stay on the line here.
Caller: And he’s threatened, he’s tried to call many times, I mean he calls me all the time saying he wants to die, and I don’t know how to deal with it.
Caller: I don’t know how to help him, so. And today like he said he was gonna plan to go to his mom’s and.
Operator: Was sent to you in text message or did he speak to you directly?
Caller: He sent me a text message saying he wanted to plan to go his mom and do this.
Operator: Okay. Caller: And he put LOL at the end.
Operator: Does he have a vehicle?
Operator: Is anyone else in danger right now?
Caller: No, I don’t think anyone’s home, just him.
Operator: Okay, is he violent?
Operator: How did he say he was gonna hurt himself?
Caller: He said he was, well he told me that he just went to the liquor store and got a big bottle, but then I’ve looked through his text messages before and he’s asked for like to find a gun for him from someone. And then I confronted him about that a long time ago and he said he wasn’t gonna do it. Um, so I don’t know what, I don’t know who he’s been contacting today. I mean he wouldn’t let me go over.
In response to this call, police arrived on the 700 block of Morgan Avenue North and found Jordan outside, armed with a knife. The officers opened fire, and Jordan died in the hospital shortly afterward. Body camera footage was recorded but hasn’t yet been released.
“Why are tasers not what’s in their hand?” said Jordan’s friend and roommate, Paul Johnson. “Why is the lethal form of de-escalating the situation and ending it in their hands and not all the other ways that could’ve been done?”
One plausible answer is that police were trained in the Tueller Drill, which trains officers to respond to a short-range knife attack when armed with a holstered handgun. The drill is based on a series of time trials performed and published in the 1980s by Sergeant Dennis Tueller.
During those trials, Sgt. Tueller established that a knife-wielding attacker enters an officer’s “danger zone” if he comes closer than 20 feet. So, if a man with a knife rushes at a cop from 19 feet away, he will almost always be able to stab the police officer sooner than the officer will be able to react.
“It was a wellness check,” said Johnson’s wife, “and now our friend is dead instead of alive and getting the help that he needed.”
What do you think?
Here’s some brief video news coverage for those interested: