PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Groups of protesters surrounded officers who were responding to a man with a knife in a mental health crisis in downtown Portland, according to the Portland Police Bureau.
Officers were called out to the 300 block of Southwest 4th Avenue at 1 p.m. Friday.
Witnesses said a man jumped out of a building’s second story window, pulled out a knife and began waving it around at people and passing cars.
The 30-year-old man displayed the knife to officers who arrived at the scene.
Police said they learned the man is schizophrenic and extremely paranoid, and could be a threat to himself or others.
Officers said they did not rush in, but slowed down, kept their distance and “exercised patience and de-escalation.”
Negotiations lasted for 90 minutes, before two separate crowds of protesters began showing up to the north and the south of the scene, according to police.
Officers said some in the crowd began chanting, and at least one person had a bullhorn.
According to PPB:
- The extra noise and distraction made it impossible for the specially trained officers to speak to the man.
- Officers implored the crowd to stop interfering, but their energy only increased.
- Even when the suicidal man's mother arrived and begged the crowd to stop, most in the crowd continued.
- Some in the crowd began threatening the officers.
A supervisor requested resources citywide, and all available officers responded from north and east precincts. PPB reported that this caused a major resource drain citywide and all but the highest priority calls had to wait. The officers at the scene donned helmets and face shields to protect themselves as they stood in front of the “hostile crowd,” according to PPB.
The officers consulted with the Crisis Negotiation Team, and after more than three hours of negotiations, the incident commander set in motion a plan to take the man into custody. A K-9 unit was used to divert his attention with barking, so officers could safely approach the man.
A Taser was used to prevent the man from using his knife, according to police, and he was taken into custody and then taken to the hospital by ambulance. The man had punctures from the Taser probes, but officers said he was otherwise uninjured.
Police said the only force used against the protesters was “some pushing to keep them back and out of the street.”
Police said help is available for people struggling with mental health:
- The Multnomah County Mental Health Call Center at 503-988-4888
- The Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare’s Urgent Walk-in Clinic at 4212 S.E. Division St.
- Lines for Life at 1-800-273-TALK
- The Portland Police Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit.