Our View: Officer-assisted suicide

Friday , October 04, 2013 - 12:22 PM

Editorial Board, Standard-Examiner

Weber County Attorney Dee Smith calls it an officer’s worst nightmare, and he’s correct. It’s officer-assisted suicide — also known as “suicide-by-cop” — in which an armed individual seeks out law enforcement with the specific purpose of having the officer kill him or her.

Officer-assisted suicide occurred on May 25 in Washington Terrace when Jeffrey Lynn Foote, 39, brandished a gun and talked to a 911 call operator while he waited for officers to come to his home.

In a seven-minute conversation with the operator, Foote — who had recently been arrested in a meth bust in Riverdale — made it clear he was waiting for the officers to arrive and kill him. After officers met Foote at his parents’ home, they negotiated for a while, with Foote holding his Ruger .380 handgun to his neck and head.

Eventually, Foote fired a shot in the direction of the officers. At that point, Foote was shot and killed by Deputy John Millaway.

We have tremendous sympathy for Deputy Millaway and other law enforcement officers who have to deal with suspects who choose to have officers kill them. Once a gun is pointed in their direction or fired, they have to protect themselves and their fellow officers. Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson, and sheriff’s office public information officer, Lt. Mark Lowther, said an officer-assisted suicide, or an attempt, is something most officers will face. “Most cops have been there. You have those memories the rest of our lives, not just to the end of our careers,” said Thompson. Lowther said that two officers forced into the ordeal never returned to field work, although they remained law enforcement officers. Thompson added he knows of one who resigned but now works in a related field.

Officer-assisted suicide is a selfish act by the individual who forces an officer to shoot to kill. We trust that officers who have to deal with this receive all the counseling and support they need.

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