Over the years, we've written on numerous occasions about suicide-by-cop incidents, in which an individual who wants to die apparently tries to goad police officers into ending his life for him. Yet few situations seem as clear-cut as one involving Jamie Strickland, whose 911 call includes the line, "If they don't fucking shoot me, I'll stab them in the goddamn eyeball."
Strickland survived, and Denver's DA has found the shooting justified. Details and the complete decision letter below.
At about 9 a.m. on November 8, according to the decision letter, Strickland, 57, made some startling statements to the emergency dispatcher.
"I have violated my probation -- been shooting meth for days," he's quoted as saying. "My name is Jamie Lynn Strickland. I have a butcher knife and I want police to come and shoot me. My front door is unlocked. If they don't fucking shoot me, I'll stab them in the goddamn eyeball.... I want to die."
Shortly thereafter, Denver police officers were dispatched to Strickland's apartment, at 1211 South Quebec Way, an area captured in the interactive graphic below. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
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Given the announcement above, the cops were very well aware of the situation upon their arrival -- and Strickland reiterated it when officers engaged him in conversation and asked him to drop the knife. "I want you to shoot me," he allegedly said. "I don't want to come out. You're going to have to shoot me."
Shortly thereafter, Officer Jesse Campion told investigators afterward, supervisors told the responding cops to enter the apartment, and they did so on two separate occasions. The first time around, Campion, who saw Strickland moving toward him in what's described as a "deliberate" manner with a knife in one hand, fired a rubber bullet. But although the round struck Strickland, it didn't make him drop the blade -- and neither did a Taser that was also discharged over the course of the exchange.
After entry number two, another cop, Lieutenant Vincent Gavito, was immediately engaged by Strickland. "The guy takes a knife...swinging at the lieutenant," Campion is quoted as saying. "He's swinging at the lieutenant and trying to kill him with the knife."
At that point, Campion was still holding the gun that had shot the rubber bullet. However, Officer Dan McIntosh was providing what's termed "lethal cover," and after Gavito shoved Strickland away with a chair and went for his own weapon, he opened fire. Strickland was hit in the chest.
Continue for more about the shooting of Jamie Strickland, including the complete decision letter finding the incident justifiable. Moments later, Strickland was rushed to Denver Health, where he responded to treatment. Today, despite his stated wish, he remains alive.
In analyzing the shooting, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey applies what he refers to as "apparent necessity." In the decision letter, he quotes from a case on the topic dating all the way back to 1910. It reads:
Apparent necessity, if well-ground and of such a character as to appeal to a reasonable person, under like conditions and circumstances, as being sufficient to require action, justifies the application of the doctrine of self-defense to the same extent as actual or real necessity.
In Morrissey's view, the "apparent necessity" doctrine "renders immaterial whether Strickland's subjective intent was to injure the officers -- as opposed to an intention to merely threaten injury in order to cause the officers to shoot him. So long as a reasonable person under like conditions and circumstances would believe that Strickland was about to injure the officers and that action was necessary to prevent it, the defense will apply."
For that reason, Morrissey concludes that "Strickland was a deadly threat to Lt. Gavito and was attacking him with the knife at the time Officer McIntosh fired the shots," making the use of force by McIntosh "legally justified."
Here's the decision letter.
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More from our Colorado Crimes archive circa October: "Jordan Koehn: Charge against ultra-drunk, possibly suicidal student shot by cops."