Negotiator averts possible suicide attempt


CAIRO — A tense stand off between law enforcement and a man who was experiencing a mental health crisis ended peacefully after a hostage negotiator successfully eased the situation.

Deputies with the Grady County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched shortly before midnight Thursday to a scene where a man was holding a handgun to his chin and threatening to pull the trigger. Deputies began talking to the subject in an attempt to de-escalate the situation and quickly radioed for additional assistance from off-duty officers and other nearby agencies.

Capt. Ken Davidson, a trained hostage negotiator with the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office, arrived at the scene and began a lengthy dialogue with the subject in an attempt to convince him to put down his firearm.

“I wasn’t sure at any point if he was going to pull the trigger or not,” said Davidson, a 12-year veteran of law enforcement. “It was pretty intense. He wasn’t kidding. He was serious about wanting to take his life.”

Davidson said the key to resolving the standoff was finding out what the subject was upset about, then finding reasons for him to preserve his life. Law enforcement determined that the man had several children, which Davidson used to remind the man of his value.

“I said, ‘your kids are going to want daddy when they grow up,’” he said.

The situation was “extremely” tense, Davidson said, and nearly two hours of negotiation passed before the man began giving clues as to his intention to live by stating that he wanted medical help.

“Up until then I wasn’t sure,” Davidson said. “For a majority of the negotiation, I thought he was going to take his life at any moment.”

Davidson assured the man that law enforcement could arrange for him to be placed in a hospital immediately. The subject then put down his firearm and walked to officers shortly before 2 a.m. Friday and was transported to Grady General Hospital.

Grady County Sheriff Harry Young extended his thanks on behalf of the department to Davidson and the fellow law enforcement agencies, including the Whigham Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol, that assisted in peacefully resolving the incident. Young also expressed gratitude that no one was hurt during the standoff.

“That’s what I got in law enforcement for,” said Davidson, who also works as a police officer with Southern Regional Technical College, “it’s to help people, not to hurt people.”

The Grady County Sheriff’s Office encourages anyone who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.

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