Metro immobilizes suicidal man at Harry Reid Airport

Knife-wielding man charged at police officers outside Las Vegas airport, department says

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Man taken to hospital with minor injuries, booked into jail, police say

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A man threatening to die by suicide outside of Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International Airport charged at officers before they used nonlethal force to immobilize him, documents said.

The incident happened Sunday morning outside of Terminal 1. An airline employee flagged down a Las Vegas Metro police officer about an unattended suitcase near a door, a police report said.

While officers waited for a police dog to check the bag, an unknown man walked into the area and dropped a bag with beer bottles, police said. 8 News Now is not identifying the man as he later attempted to take his own life. Police said the name the man gave them following the incident on Sunday was not the man’s real name.

The man then threatened to fight a police officer, they said.

“The male rolled his shoulder forward and [the officer] thought he was balling up his fists,” police said. The officer then took out his Taser.

The man backed off, but then took out a knife in his pocket and held it to his own neck, police said. The man did not comply with the officer’s commands to drop the knife.

Several officers responded. One of the officers then shot a bean bag at the man. The man continued to hold the knife to his neck, they said.

Moments later, the man “leaned forward and started to run at the officers while still holding the knife against his neck,” police said. Two officers shot him with bean bags and then the man fell to the ground, police said.

“[One officer] stated that his partners with the low-lethal shotgun… protected him and fired their weapons and struck the subject,” police said. Several officers said they believed the man would have stabbed an officer had they not used low-lethal force, they said.

Photo courtesy of Harry Reid International Airport (BusinessWire/AP)

Mary Ellen Smolinski, of suburban Chicago, was at the airport at around 9:30 a.m. when officers fired at the man behind a structure in the departures ramp in Terminal 1. She provided a video of the shooting to 8 News Now.

Smolinski’s video shows Metro personnel gathering around the man as he was lying prone in the departures area. He was taken to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center with minor injuries, police said.

“It looked like they were talking to someone behind a fence,” she said. “We didn’t feel unsafe, because they were pointing [their weapons] away from us… we couldn’t see what the other person was doing.”

The officers acted quickly, Smolinski said.

“There wasn’t a lot of talking,” she said. “All of a sudden, officers were standing there with their guns ready and you saw the video. There was shooting and ‘Oh, my gosh.’”

The man was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on charges of assault on a protected person with a deadly weapon and resisting a public officer with a deadly weapon.

The department’s Force Investigation Team investigated the incident.

For anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide, call, text, or chat with a crisis counselor at 988. To learn more about the Office of Suicide Prevention, visit this link.

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