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Video: Calif. LEO talks man out of ‘suicide by cop’

Officer Josh MacMillan was praised for deescalating a potential confrontation with a man who called 911 on himself

Robert Gundran
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

FONTANA, California — Body camera video released by the Fontana Police Department showed how a standoff between an officer and a suicidal man — who called 911 on himself — ended without tragedy in November.

Fontana Police Chief Billy Green said in the video released last week that the incident happened just after 9 a.m. Nov. 27 in the area of Commerce Way and Santa Ana Avenue. The Ontario Police Department received a call about a man with a gun and transferred the call to Fontana’s police dispatch center.

The 911 caller said he saw a man pull out a gun, so he hid behind something so the man didn’t see him.

“I was going into work, and I saw this man walking up and down the street and he looked, he looked disgruntled. Very disgruntled,” the caller said. “And when he saw my car, he pulled the gun out.”

The caller said he drove into work faster than he normally would when the man puled a gun out of his pocket.

Fontana police dispatch contacted Officer Josh MacMillan, who arrived at the scene to find a man walking up and down the street with his hands in his pockets.

“Show me your hands,” MacMillan said as he exited his police vehicle with his gun drawn. “Show me your hands right now. Don’t pull anything out.”

The officer repeated instructions until the man pulled his right hand out of his pocket, but kept his left hand hidden from view. MacMillan continued instructing the man to take his left hand out of his pocket.

“Pull your hand out, do not pull a gun out,” he said. “I’m telling you right now, I will shoot you. You understand me?”

“Shoot me,” the man said, repeating it until he started to cry. “Please, just please. Please, please please shoot me.”

“I do not want to shoot you,” MacMillan said. “Pull your hand out of your pocket bro. Come on! Don’t do this man.”

This exchange lasted for several minutes with MacMillan asking the man’s name and asking how he could help him, and the man pleading for the officer to shoot him.

“Let me help you out,” MacMillan said as the man fell to his knees. “Pull your left hand out so I can approach you safely. Pull it out, come on dude.”

Eventually the man took his left hand out of his pocket.

“You can’t help me,” the man said, crying.

“You may think I can’t, but let me try. Just give me a chance,” MacMillan said.

As additional officers arrived, the man pleaded for MacMillan to shoot him once more.

“No, I don’t want to kill you. I don’t want to kill you,” the officer said. “You’re not dying today.”

The officers put the man in handcuffs, and checked his sweater pocket for the suspected gun, only to find a phone instead.

“I don’t have a gun, I’m the one who called,” the man said through tears.

Officers didn’t find a gun on the man after searching him, and put him into the back of a police SUV. MacMillan continued to assure the man that they would talk and get through whatever was ailing him.

Green confirmed that the man involved in the standoff was the same person who called 911 about a gunman in the area.

“He placed the call to facilitate our response in an attempt to commit suicide by cop,” Green said. “Had the man not responded to the tireless deescalation tactics employed by Officer MacMillan, the outcome could have been tragic.”