Police: Tenn. cop stabbed while trying to detain mentally ill suspect

The officer was brought to a hospital in critical condition but was later said to be in stable condition

By Daniel Connolly and Jennifer Pignolet
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis police officer is recovering from a stab wound that he sustained Tuesday evening while trying to detain a man who has a mental illness, police said.

The officer was brought to a hospital in critical condition but was later said to be in stable condition. The man who reportedly stabbed him is in police custody.

The stabbing happened in the 3200 block of Carrington, the police department said on Twitter. Carrington is in the Barron Heights section of East Memphis.

Police Director Michael Rallings and Mayor Jim Strickland briefed reporters outside Regional One Hospital shortly after 10 p.m. Rallings said the 39-year-old officer was stabbed in the upper torso but is doing relatively well.

“Our officer is conscious and in good spirits,” Rallings said. “His family is currently with him and we pray that he will experience a speedy recovery.

"But this highlights the risk that our officers face every day. We should all be thankful that the men and women of MPD risk their lives every day to help keep our city safe."

He also said the incident shows the importance of having well-trained officers who show restraint.

He said the police department would release the stabbing suspect's name once he’s charged. He also said the officer’s name would be released once he’s debriefed.

About a dozen police cars were seen accompanying an ambulance heading west on E.H. Crump Boulevard around 8:15 p.m. It wasn't immediately clear if this was connected to the stabbing, though it mirrors police response to major events.

The officer who was stabbed is a member of the Crisis Intervention Team, or CIT, said Lt. Karen Rudolph, a police spokeswoman.

That's a select group of officers with experience and training working with people who have mental illnesses. Rudolph said she believed other CIT officers were on the scene as well.

Rallings said officers came to the area about 7:30 p.m. after a caller said that her son was armed and acting erratically. The officers came in contact with a 33-year-old man who was armed, and the man fled into the house and threw objects at the police, Rallings said.

The officers tried to use a Taser, a shock device that can fire electrified darts at short range, but it had no effect, the police director said. More officers arrived, and they tried to detain the man. In the process, the officer was stabbed, and the man was later detained, Rallings said.

Police had blocked off a section of Carrington. Tiwana Young, 53, who lives on the street, was waiting in an SUV for permission to go to her house.

Young said she has lived on the street for 22 years, and lives directly across the street from a man with mental illness.

That man stays with his mother and aunt, she said.

She said a neighbor told her this man is the one who stabbed the police officer and that the man has shown unusual behavior in the past, including using a gun to shoot squirrels in the neighborhood. “I actually saw him with the squirrels in his hand,” she said.

Once, her 81-year-old mother went out to confront the man about trespassing on their property to hunt, she said. When Young learned about the confrontation later, she told her mother not to do it again. “I said, ‘Mom, don’t approach him because he’s paranoid.’”

Officer Stabbing Media Briefing 1-30-2018

Tonight, one of our officers was stabbed while attempted to apprehend an armed mental consumer. Director Michael Rallings and Mayor Strickland brief the media.

Posted by Memphis Police Department est.1827 on Tuesday, January 30, 2018

She also said her mother had called her about 7 p.m. Tuesday to warn her that the man was walking around the neighborhood acting strange and to watch out when she came home.

She also said the man had been involved in the shooting of one of his relatives last year, that she’d seen a similar big police response that time, and that she was surprised to see him out in the neighborhood again.

“I just hope that they get him some help and don’t send him back over here in the shape that he’s in.”

The account of the man shooting a relative couldn’t immediately be verified.

©2018 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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