A man was shot and killed in an east Mesa home by an officer Tuesday afternoon after the man emerged from a bedroom with a gun while police were responding to a report of a suicidal man.
Police said the man, Kenneth Cullen, 48, became confrontational with SWAT officers when he came out of a bedroom of a home on North Hunt Drive West near Stapley Road and University Drive. He was holding a handgun.
Police responded to the home about 1:20 p.m. and soon after were assisted by members of the SWAT team.
During the 45-minute situation, Cullen exited the rear of the residence and pointed the gun at himself telling officers to shoot him, police said. Cullen was shot after he pointed a gun at one of the officers, an officer who said he believed Cullen was going to fire his gun, according to police.
Injured, Cullen went back inside the residence where a police robot went inside and discovered Cullen on the floor. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Two other adults were inside the residence during the situation, but were safely removed, according to police.
It was not immediately known what Cullen was distressed over.
Per department policy, the officer responsible for the shooting was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The officer, whose name was not available, has more than eight years of experience on the job, according to the Mesa Police Association, the union that represents sworn officers in Mesa.
In a statement issued by the Mesa Police Association, president Ryan Russell said he felt confident that the officer was justified in shooting Cullen.
“This was a clear situation of something the law enforcement world refers to as “suicide by cop,’” Russell said. “This is a growing trend that puts the public and our officers at risk,” Russell said in the statement.
“Officers are required to employ deadly force to preserve their own lives and those of innocent bystanders,” Russell added. “We have every confidence that the officer acted in accordance with their training, and in line of their duty. When officers are in danger, they must act decisively. Our thoughts go out to the officers, their families and the family of the suspect, who have suffered from a stressful and traumatic experience.”
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