Apparent Copicide Successful in West Virginia
WEST VIRGINIA – In what is described as a suicide by cop—otherwise known in police circles as copicide—State police in West Virginia say officers fatally shot a man that threatened them with a knife as he reportedly voiced a death wish.
In a press release, Lt. Michael Baylous said Daniel Giberson, 25, was involved in a domestic disturbance in Princeton, about 90 miles south of Charleston. He fled and led officers in a pursuit, reported ABC News.
When Giberson crashed his vehicle, officers found him in the front seat with a knife to his throat. According to police, when they removed a passenger from the auto, Giberson got out and approached the officers with the knife, saying they had to shoot him. Baylous says in response to the threat to their lives, they shot, and Giberson was fatally wounded.
The department did not release further details.
For the Monday morning quarterbacks that are sure to criticize the police in this incident, imagine this:
Your are driving to work, and preparing to merge onto a road when you see a pedestrian ahead. As you approach, suddenly the man jumps in front of your car and there is a violent collision. He rolls over your hood, smashes into your windshield, and topples off the rear of your finely waxed Mercedes.
You pull to the side of the road stunned, shocked, in disbelief. The bloodied windshield is shattered and concave. Was this a bad dream, or did you just plow over a human being? It can’t be. Someone would not intentionally jump in front of my car, you think to yourself. That’s suicide!
Or did I veer off the road and hit the poor soul. Now you’re unsure. You don’t think so, but suddenly the world just became foggy.
You tell the responding officers what happened, and they assure you that you did nothing wrong. But you’ve just taken a life, and now you’re wondering how you will cope.
There is a news report of the incident, and you hear the people wonder aloud, “Why didn’t he swerve to miss the guy? … Wasn’t he paying attention? … Isn’t there something else he could have done?”
This scenario occurs frequently, and receives very little attention. Yet when police are forced to shoot a suicidal suspect armed with a weapon, the person who wishes to die becomes the victim, and the police are the bullies that took his life.
Out come the comedians, the same one’s that panic in the real world off stage.
While many of the specific details remain unknown, facing a person hell-bent on death has many challenges. One swipe with a knife across an artery and death can arrive quickly.
The same police that are criticized also handle this scenario without deadly force frequently, but no one knows because it’s a non-news story. Yet on occasion it happens, and the person forces the hand of the men and women in uniform.
As critics sit at their round tables and vacillate better ways to handle this scenario, let me remind all of us that we were not there. The West Virginia State Police will likely debrief this incident, and determine if there were ways to improve their response.
While it is sad that a young person lost his life, it is also disappointing that an officer is now required to cope with the actions reportedly precipitated by this person.
If you’ve never been to a bloody homicide scene caused by a blade wielding suspect, or placed a pressure pad on a bleeding artery that was gashed by a pocket knife, please save your comments.
– Jim McNeff