Edgartown Police officers successfully took a 28-year-old man into custody without hurting him, after he allegedly threatened them with a knife, a shard of glass, and a shovel.
When officers arrived, “they saw the defendant before them … He’s armed with a knife in his left hand, a piece of broken glass in his right hand, yelling at officers to kill him — charging toward the officers in a menacing manner while brandishing both weapons,” Cape and Islands ADA Matt Palazzolo said in court on Nov. 22. “Officers had to deploy less than lethal force, take cover behind their cruisers. At this point he replaces the weapons in his hands with a short-handled shovel, again threatening to kill officers. Officers are able to speak to him and deescalate the situation.”
The man, who The Times is not naming because it was an attempted suicide, was ordered held by Edgartown District Court Judge Benjamin Barnes following his arraignment on one count of assault and battery and two counts of property defacement. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. Palazzolo told the court the defendant threatened police officers when they arrived at his Edgartown residence on a report of a suspicious 911 call on Nov. 21.
Palazzolo also said the defendant told officers he didn’t want to live anymore, and tried to sever his finger unsuccessfully.
“At this point, officers were able to take him into custody,” Palazzolo said. Palazzolo said the defendant presented “a clear danger to the community.”
Palazzolo requested $5,000 bail for the incident and a revocation of bail for an incident in June when the defendant allegedly assaulted one household member and threatened another with a knife.
Nov. 21 police reports show the man allegedly yelled “F______ kill me!” at Sgt. Michael Snowden and Officers Tyler Moreis, Alex Guest, and Jake Sylvia. After the defendant switched to a shovel and allegedly told officers “I’ll f______ kill you!” before trying to harm himself with the shovel, Officers Sylvia and Guest escorted family members from the residence to a place of safety, according to a report.
In court, the defendant’s attorney, Casey Dobel, said the encounter was an attempt by her client to end his life. “Your honor, this was quite frankly a suicide-by-cop attempt,” Dobel said.
Dobel said her client has a long history of mental illness “which officers were thankfully aware of,” and managed to not harm him while performing their duties.
Dobel said on several occasions her client has attempted suicide.
“This is another evolution of that mental illness,” Dobel said. “He does not need jail, he needs treatment. He needs help.”
Dobel said on the subject of a stay-away order recommended by the prosecution, recently and “numerous times in the past” the alleged victims have declined to apply for a restraining order.
Dobel says her client lives with his parents, and just wants to go home and “get help that he needs.”
She added, “When he is properly medicated, when he is in treatment, he is not a danger to anyone.”
Dobel said her client cannot afford the suggested bail of $5,000, and noted her client has a history of showing up for his court dates.
Dobel argued the only conditions that should be applied to her client are to take prescribed medication, to remain in treatment, and to receive a mental health evaluation.
Judge Barnes set the defendant’s bail at $200 for the incident with police, and revoked his bail for the incident in June. The defendant was ordered held until his next court appearance on Dec. 20.
Police reports show the defaced property charges against the defendant stem from an outdoor glass table and a truck window he allegedly smashed. The assault and battery charge stems from the defendant allegedly striking or hitting somebody he lives with.
Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee told The Times, “Domestic calls, and certainly ones that have an element of perhaps some sort of a mental illness, are some of the most dangerous, most challenging calls an officer can respond to.”
Chief McNamee commended the officers who responded to the call for employing de-escalation to ensure a safe outcome. Chief McNamee said the four officers showed extreme “maturity” and “professionalism” in the work they did. “This could have gone in another direction, a tragic direction, really quickly,” Chief McNamee said.
McNamee said a beanbag gun, an orange shotgun that shoots nonlethal rounds, was taken from a cruiser but not used during the response.