This Is Crazy

Wednesday, May 6, 1998
4:45 p.m.
It's hot outside when Stan Israel arrives at his Lakewood apartment. He takes off his shoes, sits down, turns on the TV and unwinds. He calls his girlfriend, Patricia, and they make a dinner date. She loves to cook, so later on he'll drive over to her place in south Denver.

Then he notices a face looking through his window. Still on the phone, he gets up to see who it is just as there's a knock on the door. He goes to the door and finds himself staring at two Lakewood police officers. One is a short and stocky woman, the other a beefy man.

Is his name Stanley Israel? one of them asks.
Yes, Israel replies.
They ask if they can come in.
He lets them in and tells Patricia he'll call her back.
The officers ask if everything is okay.

"Yes, why?" he responds. They ask if he has been drinking that day. He tells them no, he just got home from work. They look around, ask him for ID. He shows them his driver's license.

The officers look cautious, and he can tell they're looking past him and inspecting the room. Earlier that day, they tell him, someone made a call to Lutheran Medical Center in nearby Wheat Ridge and reported that Israel had been drinking heavily and brandishing a weapon. He hadn't been taking his medication, the caller said, and was suicidal.

Israel thinks maybe a friend is playing a prank on him. He tells the cops he's not on medication and hasn't been drinking. While he does own a .25 pistol, he keeps it hidden away.

The female officer radioes her dispatcher and says that Israel is coherent and everything seems fine. She writes in her report that he is not intoxicated. The cops ask if Israel will come with them to Lutheran and get this straightened out. It'll only take an hour.

Had Israel said, "No, thank you," the cops--with no reason to detain him--might have gotten in their car and driven off, and Israel would have gone over to Patricia's for dinner.

Instead, Israel tells the police he'll come with them. Their visit is a simple mixup, he figures. He phones Patricia and tells her he'll be late. He wants to drive his own car to the hospital, but the officers say they'd prefer he ride with them. They offer to give him a lift back home when everything has been cleared up.

After he is frisked for weapons, he jumps in back and the squad car heads to Lutheran.

5:20 p.m.
Stan Israel is escorted through the emergency room at Lutheran Medical Center. The cops drop him off with a nurse who appears to be expecting him. He's led to an exam room. Ten or fifteen minutes pass. Israel sits there alone. He's calm, thinking about dinner with Patricia.

A male nurse enters and asks him to remove his clothes and put on a hospital gown. Israel tells him he is just there to talk, not to be treated. The nurse insists. So does Israel. A twinge of doubt enters Israel's mind. He knows something is wrong but reaches a compromise with the nurse. Israel will change if the nurse will find someone who can get this sorted out. Israel's clothes go into a bag, and the nurse takes them away.

Twenty minutes later, the same nurse returns and takes Israel's vital signs. The nurse tells him what he's found out, which is what Israel already knows: Someone claims he's been drinking, waving a weapon and acting suicidal. And that he has a history of being a manic depressive. Israel says it's not true--all day long he's been at his job installing sensors for residential electric meters at Tru-Check, which works out of the Public Service Company of Colorado building in northeast Denver.

The nurse needs to draw blood and take a urine sample. Israel agrees, figuring two negative results will get him off the hook. Israel goes back through the last couple of days but can think of nothing that would explain the mess he finds himself in. He asks if he can use a phone. No one lets him.

6:20 p.m.
Dr. Kelli Lewis, an emergency-room doctor, enters Israel's room. Israel explains his situation and points out that he volunteered to come down; now it's like he's done something wrong.

Lewis tells him that if he had not come voluntarily, he would have been brought anyway. Maybe I'll just knock you out and leave, Israel thinks to himself, a little angry--but he knows better than to mouth off now.

Lewis fills him in on the details. It was his sister, J.J. Beumer, who called the hospital and reported that Israel had been drinking, had waved his gun at his own daughter and her son, had a history of bipolar disorder and had been suicidal. Israel tells Lewis the claims are ridiculous. He doesn't even know what bipolar disorder is, he says. He tells her he owns a gun because his house was once burglarized.

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T.R. Witcher

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