Detective Howard Brickner and Corporal Lynn Bays narrowly averted a suicide by cop scenario earlier this year with determination and quick thinking, according to Pulaski County Detective Captain Linda Burgess. Marcus Lavender was determined to commit suicide by cop by his own admission, according to the body camera footage provided by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department. Bays’ body camera was on and recorded the entire incident. Lavender was recently sentenced on two charges related to the incident. He received four years in the Department of Corrections for Unlawful Use of a Weapon and seven years for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, lesser charges he pleaded guilty to instead of the five earlier charges he had pending. Brickner told that he and Bays went to Lavender’s residence for a well-being check call. After arriving, they were warned by dispatch that Lavender had made threatening remarks about trying to shoot any officers that arrived on scene.
They noticed an open bottle of alcohol in the seat of a truck on the property and according to the video footage, and Brickner’s account, Bays walked around to the back of the house, while Brickner knocked on the front door.“The front door was opening with the muzzle of a weapon behind it. I grabbed a hold of the muzzle pushing it away and wrapped around the guy and we started to wrestle with the gun. It went off. I had yelled for my partner and he’d come running,” Brickner said. Brickner said that his main thought was he needed to get “the muzzle of that weapon planted in the ground where it wasn’t going to be able to do anything.” Bays ran to assist Brickner after he called his name, heard the shot being fired just before he rounded the corner of the house, and came upon Brickner struggling with Lavender in the front yard over a rifle. Bays drew his weapon and ordered Lavender to drop his weapon, but did not shoot because Brickner and Lavender were struggling for the rifle and there was a risk that Bays could hit Brickner. Bays used is his taser on Lavender and helped Brickner secure him, while Lavender begged the officers to shoot him, telling them, “I want to die.”
According to the probable cause statement in the incident, Lavender’s girlfriend was inside the house with her two children when this happened. Pulaski County Sheriff Jimmy Bench said the incident shows that the agency doesn’t “see black or white” and that it’s about saving lives. “We see a life, that’s all that matters. Your end goal is for everyone to go home safe,” Bench said. Burgess said that hearing that gun shot or hearing shots fired on a call gives you the “awfullest feeling ever” and there’s an adrenaline dump while trying to see everyone out of a situation like that alive. “They handled the situation the best way they knew how without shooting someone. I commend them for that. When you’ve got a gun pointed at you, that’s awful hard,” Bench said. Brickner told that he hasn’t had a gun pointed at him too many times in his career and this was the first time a gun was fired.