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LEO Near Miss: Psychiatric patient attempts to disarm officer in ER

After learning he is being admitted to a psych facility, a psychiatric patient launches a violent attack on two officers


After several minutes, the suspect tried to flee on foot before being tackled.


Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss is a voluntary, non-disciplinary officer safety initiative that allows law enforcement personnel to read about and anonymously share stories of close calls or “near misses,” which provide lessons learned that can protect fellow officers in similar situations.

Event summary

Officers were with a psychiatric patient at the ER for an evaluation. The patient was not under arrest but was subject to a psychiatric hold.

When the patient was informed that he was being admitted to a psychiatric care facility, he became combative with officers on scene. The patient jumped up out of bed and charged one officer, forcing him back approximately 10 feet into a wall. Both officers grappled with the suspect before going to the ground.

Officers tried to call for assistance via radio, but dispatchers could not understand their frantic requests. On the ground, the suspect assumed a mount position and took an officer’s head in his hands, slamming it on the ground two times. The suspect then attempted to unholster the downed officer’s firearm, defeating one level of retention on the holster. The second officer did not observe this and continued to grapple with the suspect.

After several minutes, the suspect tried to flee on foot before being tackled. The suspect then punched both officers separately, striking both in the face. Officers again grappled with the suspect and eventually brought him under control. Both officers were admitted to the ER with contusions, bruised ribs, and scrapes.

Contributing risk factors

  • Inadequate scene size-up/assessment
  • Lack of communication
  • Poor/inadequate planning
  • Subject’s size advantage
  • Subject was emotionally disturbed

Lessons Learned

  • Officers should recognize any interaction with an individual with psychiatric issues is unpredictable and can become violent at any time. This is especially true in a medical or care facility since an individual may not be secured and the interaction may be in a confined area.
  • Officers should communicate with medical personnel so they know what personnel intend to do with and say to the patient so that officers are not surprised by the patient’s reaction. Officers should then have a plan for dealing with the individual and communicate that plan with medical personnel.
  • Officers should regularly practice defensive tactics and gun retention techniques and clearly communicate with other officers when an individual is attempting to disarm them.
  • Law enforcement should also use this incident as an opportunity to train ALL hospital staff. Agencies should reach out to their hospital administration and discuss situations like this to prevent them from happening or occurring again.


Support this critical officer safety initiative by reading and sharing the near-miss stories and lessons learned that your fellow officers have shared, and consider sharing your own near-miss experiences at

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