Man with Mental Illness Tased by Portland Police in Grocery Store

By Sara Roth, KGW News, Nov. 18, 2013

Portland police tased a man armed with knives who was reportedly threatening shoppers and stealing at Whole Foods in Northwest Portland Friday. Officers recognized him from prior mental health incidents.

The incident happened at Whole Foods at 1210 NW Couch St. around 8:30 a.m. Friday, according to the Portland Police Bureau. It was captured on an eight-minute citizen video posted on YouTube.

The person who posted the video casts the police in a negative, but bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson encouraged people to watch it as a textbook case of police following proper procedures.

“It shows the distance the officers kept,” he said, “They didn’t force a confrontation. They were very patient, very calm.”

Store employees said the suspect shoplifted merchandise and then grabbed knives off of a rack. When employees asked him to leave, he refused.

A responding sergeant at the scene said he recognized the man and knew he was struggling with mental health issues.

Officers surrounded the man, asked him by name to put down the knives and told him he would be tased if he didn’t.

After several minutes, the sergeant tased the man. The suspect fell to the ground but continued to struggle with officers.

Police said three additional Taser cycles were needed to safely gain control of the man and put him into handcuffs.

The man suffered a bloody nose during the altercation. He was cited for disorderly conduct and menacing and taken to a Portland hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Jason Renaud of the Mental Health Association of Portland said “it does seem to be a well-managed takedown of a person carrying a weapon in a public place.” That said, funding needs dramatically increase to help the mentally ill like the man arrested, he said.

Police said the bureau’s behavioral health unit would conduct a follow-up with the man.