GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - It took just more than two minutes for an early Monday morningtraffic stop by a Calhoun County sheriff's deputy to escalate, withthe driver putting the deputy's life -- as well as his own -- injeopardy.
Video released to 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday gives a rare look atthe danger law enforcement officers can face in the line of duty.The deputy survived after the driver turned the gun on himself andtook his own life, despite the deputy's attempts to convince himnot to.
The dashboard recording shows the 23-year-old driver pulling agun from his waist after the sheriff's deputy asked the driver toget out of his car -- about 30 seconds before he told the deputy hedid not have a weapon.
"No, I'm good, officer," he had told the deputy. "I'm cominghome from work. I'm just trying to go home."
As soon as the driver pulled a weapon, the deputy is heardsaying "don't. Do not. Do not." The deputy trips and the drivertells him to put his hands on his head.
The driver had admitted his driver's license was suspended. Andhe said he had some marijuana in his car that he threw out of itearlier. The man is heard telling the officer, "I'm sorry aboutthis. I don't want to go to jail."
That's when the driver brings up the idea of killinghimself.
"No, I don't want you to do that," the deputy said. And hecontinued to try to talk the driver down. "We need to talk becauseI don't want you to kill yourself," the deputy said.
The driver did put a gun to his head several times, and thedeputy continued to try to convince him otherwise. Less than fiveminutes after the traffic stop began, the driver took his own life.
Calhoun County Sheriff's Captain Matt Saxton credits the deputyfor remaining remarkably calm. The deputy followed procedure,Saxton said in an interview Tuesday, and the firearm and tacticstraining 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 asyou can," Saxton said, "and personalize it."
That includes the deputy's references to his family heard in therecording.
The driver's father, who asked not to be identifed, said thefamily is "sorry for the officer. [We] hope that he doesn't haveanything in his life stress him out because of this situation."
He said his son was driving home from work -- something thedriver said himself in the video, after he told the deputy he didnot have a weapon.
The driver's decision to take his own life may have been out ofdesperation, his father said. "He didn't have no other choice inhis mind. We wish it would have went differently."
The 23-year-old was a good man who had just recently gotten intotrouble with guns, his father said. Though he stresses his son isnot a murderer and not a thug, the father said he has a warning forthose who get caught up with guns.
"If you need a gun to go around the people that you need to goaround with, your friends, then those are not the people you shouldbe with," he said. "And please, don't ever do this to your parents... because it literally rips your heart out."
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