The day before Thanksgiving, a Fontana Police Department officer was involved in a confrontation with a disturbed man who said he was armed and wanted the officer to kill him.
But thanks to the patience and determination of Officer Josh MacMillan, the situation was de-escalated, the man was safely taken into custody, and no shots were fired.
As it turned out, the disturbed man was not holding a gun after all; all he had was a cell phone, which he had used to make a 9-1-1 call which originally initiated the incident.
The Nov. 27 incident was recorded on the officer's body-worn camera and the footage was posted on the Fontana P.D.'s Facebook page, where it received dozens of positive comments from residents who praised MacMillan's professionalism.
The video, which was viewed thousands of times, contains language and images that may be disturbing, and viewer discretion is advised. The video can be seen on YouTube at https://youtu.be/YOM5TQw_sYE
Fontana Police Chief Billy Green provided background information about the incident, which took place at about 9 a.m. on a street in the area of Commerce Way and Santa Ana Avenue in southern Fontana. No other persons were in the immediate vicinity.
The man called 9-1-1 and told the Fontana P.D. dispatcher: "I was going into work and I saw this man walking up and down the street and he didn't … he looked, he looked disgruntled. Very disgruntled … And when he saw the car he, he pulled the gun and so I just kind of drove into my work place like a little faster than I normally would … I'm looking at him right now. He's, he's still walking up and down the street. I don't think he sees me."
The man said he went inside his workplace at a warehouse, and the dispatcher sent a "man with a gun" call via police radio to all units.
MacMillan arrived at the scene at 9:04 a.m. and found the man walking in the street. MacMillan got out of the car, pointed his gun at the man, and said: "Show me your hands right now."
The officer repeatedly instructed the man to pull his left hand out of his pocket, but the man kept saying, "Just shoot me!"
"I do not want to shoot you!" MacMillan said as he walked slowly toward him.
"Please, just please," the man said tearfully.
MacMillan, who was convinced that the man was hiding a weapon in his sweater pocket, kept talking to him.
"You can't help me," the man said.
"Let me try," MacMillan said, telling the man to surrender, which he eventually did after several minutes.
Officers Neil Bachman, Joseph Morales, and Steve Reed arrived on scene and assisted in detaining the man, who kept sobbing and admitted that he didn't have a gun.
The man was "clearly experiencing a mental health crisis," Green said.
"The man in crisis captured on video is the same person that had just called 9-1-1. He placed the call to facilitate our response in an attempt to commit suicide by cop. Had the man not responded to the tireless de-escalation tactics employed by Officer MacMillan, the outcome could have been tragic for the individual in crisis and our officers," Green said.
Green said that members of the Fontana P.D. honor their service to the community and respect the value of all human life.
"Anytime a Fontana Police officer uses force, all facts are reviewed and analyzed to determine if the use of force was objectively reasonable under the totality of the circumstances known to the officer at the time. The appropriateness of some uses of force are obvious, while others are complex and require detailed follow-up investigation," Green said. "However, it is always the expectation of the Fontana Police Department that officers practice a concerned response to all situations and intervene safely based on the information known at the time, with adherence to applicable statutes and departmental policies."