Updated: Tuesday, 26 Jan 2010, 6:49 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 26 Jan 2010, 6:42 PM EST
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - It took just more than two minutes for an early Monday morning traffic stop by a Calhoun County sheriff's deputy to escalate, with the driver putting the deputy's life -- as well as his own -- in jeopardy.
Video released to 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday gives a rare look at the danger law enforcement officers can face in the line of duty. The deputy survived after the driver turned the gun on himself and took his own life, despite the deputy's attempts to convince him not to.
The dashboard recording shows the 23-year-old driver pulling a gun from his waist after the sheriff's deputy asked the driver to get out of his car -- about 30 seconds before he told the deputy he did not have a weapon.
"No, I'm good, officer," he had told the deputy. "I'm coming home from work. I'm just trying to go home."
As soon as the driver pulled a weapon, the deputy is heard saying "don't. Do not. Do not." The deputy trips and the driver tells him to put his hands on his head.
The driver had admitted his driver's license was suspended. And he said he had some marijuana in his car that he threw out of it earlier. The man is heard telling the officer, "I'm sorry about this. I don't want to go to jail."
That's when the driver brings up the idea of killing himself.
"No, I don't want you to do that," the deputy said. And he continued to try to talk the driver down. "We need to talk because I don't want you to kill yourself," the deputy said.
The driver did put a gun to his head several times, and the deputy continued to try to convince him otherwise. Less than five minutes after the traffic stop began, the driver took his own life.
Calhoun County Sheriff's Captain Matt Saxton credits the deputy for remaining remarkably calm. The deputy followed procedure, Saxton said in an interview Tuesday, and the firearm and tactics training deputies receive.
"We'll watch the video and use it for future training," he said. "It's fortunate he went home to his wife and kids yesterday."
Law enforcement officers are trained "to try and talk as much as you can," Saxton said, "and personalize it."
That includes the deputy's references to his family heard in the recording.
The driver's father, who asked not to be identifed, said the family is "sorry for the officer. [We] hope that he doesn't have anything in his life stress him out because of this situation."
He said his son was driving home from work -- something the driver said himself in the video, after he told the deputy he did not have a weapon.
The driver's decision to take his own life may have been out of desperation, his father said. "He didn't have no other choice in his mind. We wish it would have went differently."
The 23-year-old was a good man who had just recently gotten into trouble with guns, his father said. Though he stresses his son is not a murderer and not a thug, the father said he has a warning for those who get caught up with guns.
"If you need a gun to go around the people that you need to go around with, your friends, then those are not the people you should be with," he said. "And please, don't ever do this to your parents ... because it literally rips your heart out."