Man loses suit against Tampa police after being shot in face during attempted suicide call
Tampa Bay Times
November 24, 2018
A Tampa real estate agent’s four-year legal battle against the city of Tampa and its police department came to an end last week, when a jury sided with the officer who shot him twice in the face during a call meant to prevent his suicide.
Jason and Amanda Turk pose with their three daughters (from left) Emily, 12, with daughters Emily, 12, Anabel, 3, and Adeline, 5. [Courtesy of Jason Turk]The federal lawsuit Jason Turk filed in August 2014 claimed that the city and then-Chief Jane Castor failed to provide the necessary de-escalation and crisis intervention training required for officers to successfully answer calls for help involving the mentally ill.
“I want the Tampa Police Department to take crisis intervention training more seriously and implement it into their training the way the (Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office) and countless police departments across the country do," Turk, 42, told the Tampa Bay Times. "It is an important component of policing because most calls into police involve some sort of mental health crisis. Not every call is about chasing down a bad guy."
One call for help came from Turk's wife, Amanda, in the early morning of Jan. 9, 2014. Turk, an 11-year Navy veteran, had become estranged from his wife and was suffering from severe depression. He was drinking heavily that night when he recorded himself reading aloud from a suicide note and sent the video to his wife, who then called 911.
She told the operator her husband was threatening to kill himself, and added a crucial detail: “He knows if cops come and he won’t put down the gun that they’ll shoot him,” she can be heard telling the operator in a recording of the 911 call. The police classified the call a “suicide by cop.”
It still haunts her, she said.
Turk admits he had a pistol in his lap when K-9 Officer Timothy Bergman spotted him sitting in his car as it idled in the driveway of the Tampa Heights home where Turk moved during a trial separation from his wife. But Turk insists the only person ever threatened by the weapon was himself.
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