Austin Calhoun, 16 at the time, stumbled into a fire-station on the night of July 8, 2012, while intoxicated and called 911.
According to KGO, law enforcers answered the call and upon arrival “found a young man out in public, holding a knife to his throat,” Santa Clara Police Captain Phil Cooke said.
The captain said a negotiator was called to the scene, but Calhoun was moving towards the cops with the knife and forced the officers to take action.
One of the officers, Santa Clara Police Officer Mike Horn, fired two rounds of “rubber bullets,” at Calhoun’s head. Then a K-9 unit was released to further subdue the teen.
Calhoun’s attorney, John Burris, said the impact from the hits to the head caused Calhoun’s brain to swell forcing doctors to perform brain surgery and now has to live with a skull deformity.
“We think they showed great restraint and utilizing the devices they had rather than resorting to deadly force,” Capt. Cooke said.
The attorney said, however, that Calhoun is a victim of “unreasonable force,” the Mercury News reported.
“When a person is suicidal, they have an obligation to de-escalate and not engage and accommodate the person by killing them,” Burris said. “Just because they’re suicidal doesn’t mean you should do it. You’re supposed to save lives, not take lives.”
Interestingly enough, Calhoun is still alive.
KTVU reported that a jury hearing the case awarded $1.7 million to the teen and found Officer Horn liable for the incident.
The monetary demands from the lawyer were far greater than the $1.7 million, with $10 million for physical/emotional injuries and $2 million for punitive damages, but Burris and Calhoun were satisfied with the amount.
“Sadly, it seems that money is the only way to force the police to stop unnecessarily killing and injuring citizens who are suffering from mental health issues,” Burris told the Mercury News. “The conduct of the officers was outrageous, and Mr. Calhoun was fortunate to survive.”
The City of Santa Clara is on the hook to pay $1.7 million to Calhoun.