WASHINGTON — A man with a knife, killed by police: It’s happened twice in one week in Howard County, in separate cases just miles apart.
Last Wednesday, a 45-year-old man identified as Darren Friedman had attempted suicide. When police arrived at his Ellicott City home, they found him bleeding from self-inflicted cuts. Police say he threatened them with a knife, and they fired their service weapons. Friedman was taken to a hospital in Baltimore, where he died.
And on Saturday morning, a 61-year-old man reportedly threatened to kill the occupants of his Ellicott City home. When police arrived, the man appeared in the front yard of the home and threatened them with a knife.
According to Sherry Llewellyn, spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department, police attempted to subdue him with a Taser, but he ran back inside. Soon after, he re-emerged, again holding a knife. He refused to drop the knife, and police say the two responding officers fired their weapons. The man was declared dead on the scene.
Llewellyn says the shootings are very unusual. Howard County had had a total of five officer-involved shootings in the past five years, excluding the two recent fatal shootings.
“All of our officers are specially trained to deal with people who may be having mental health issues,” Llewellyn says.
A specialized mobile team can handle people who may experience a mental health crisis. But Llewellyn says each case has to be assessed on the spot, and a mental health problem may not be apparent in situations where violence escalates quickly.
“The officers really do their best to use their training to talk people down, and encourage them to remain calm — to drop their weapons and keep their distance from the officers,” Llewellyn says.
But when a suspect advances on police, “they really have no choice at that point — for their own protection — but to fire their weapons.”
Llewellyn says both cases are under investigation, which is routine whenever a police officer is involved in firing their weapon.