San Diego Case Fuels Debate On Cops Handling Suicidal Episodes


Grant Sattaur, 20, committed suicide the day after Christmas last year near San Diego while on the phone with a police crisis negotiator. Nine months later, says the San Diego Union-Tribune, Sattaur’s parents are devastated by their loss and furious at the Oceanside Police Department and Officer Scott Wright, who told Sattaur in the final moments of a two-hour conversation to “shut up and listen,” to “man up” and stop being a “coward” – words that Sattaur’s parents believe pushed their distraught son to end his life.

The suicide has prompted debate about police tactics during suicidal crises. Several police negotiators came to Wright’s defense, although Jim Byler, a retired Carlsbad police lieutenant who trains negotiators, said “the transcript of this incident will be used by instructors on how not to conduct negotiations.” They all agree that suicide standoffs are among the most heart-wrenching moments they face. “When it goes wrong, you second-guess yourself. Is there something I could have said better? Done better?” said Sgt. Wayne Spees of the San Diego Police Department’s Emergency Negotiation Team. “Especially with suicides, there may have never been an opportunity for success. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what I say.”


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