A case of Clusterfuck “Huh?”

A Letter to the Oregonian: We were aghast to learn of the killing this weekend of Tigard-area teen Lukus Glenn by Washington County sheriff’s deputies (“Police kill 18-year-old near Tigard,” Sept. 17, and “Mom: 9-1-1 call was to help son,” Sept. 18).

Something went terribly wrong here. Having raised three children, we know that there are occasions when teens may be out of control and defiant, especially if alcohol is involved. Glenn’s parents did exactly the right thing when their son appeared to be out of control and self-destructive: They asked for help.

They expected that their son might have to be arrested for the night, sober up and face the consequences of extreme behavior. The last thing they expected, we’re sure, was that law enforcement officers would escalate the situation even further.

If Glenn had been a wild animal cornered in the neighborhood, chances are he would have been tranquilized and transported unconscious back to a friendly habitat. Why couldn’t that have happened for Glenn?

We weren’t there, and we don’t know the exact circumstances as events played out, but we suggest a different type of training for the officers is needed. Defiance is not sufficient reason to take a life.

Bring out the Tasers, stall, negotiate, do something else — anything rather than escalate to final justice so quickly.

Our sympathies go out to the parents who raised a promising young man who just needed a little help and some extra discipline getting through the adolescent growing pains. He deserved a better outcome, and so did they.

Some key details of the story, found here:

By then, another friend had driven Lukus’ car to the Glenns’ house. His parents heard windows smashing. Their son punched out a back window of one of their cars, then grabbed a shovel and knocked out a window on another.

Glenn dropped the shovel, Morales said, and pulled out a knife. “Me and his dad tried to jump toward him and stop him,” Morales said, but Glenn moved away and threatened to hurt himself.

“He was not trying to hurt us,” Morales said. “I told him, ‘I’ll back away, but please put the knife down.’ ”

When Hope Glenn saw her son put a knife to his throat and refuse to move it, she called 9-1-1. “I said, ‘Don’t shoot him, he’s suicidal.’ ”

Morales said he saw three officers run into the front yard, guns drawn. They told Morales to drop to the ground and told Brad Glenn to go inside. Glenn’s grandmother was at her door and they screamed at her to get inside, Hope Glenn and Morales said.

Morales said the officers yelled at Lukus Glenn to drop the knife. Glenn had the knife in his right hand and kept telling the officers to “stop screaming, stop yelling,” Morales said.

Hope Glenn watched from her windows and said she pleaded on the phone with an emergency dispatcher, “Don’t let them shoot him. He’s my only son.”

Another officer fired several bean-bag rounds, which didn’t knock Lukus Glenn down.

“He just kind of looked at them,” Morales said.

Glenn grabbed both sides of his baggy pants and turned toward the house, gasping, his mother said.

Then four to five gunshots followed.

“I remember seeing him falling as I was screaming his name,” Morales said.

The Glenns watched their son fall on the front step outside his grandmother’s room. Hope Glenn was screaming and had to be treated later for chest pains.

The two deputies are on routine leave while the case is investigated. Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Bob Day said all deputies are trained in crisis intervention techniques. After Lukus Glenn refused to drop the knife, the deputies felt they had no choice but to shoot him before he went inside his home, a prepared sheriff’s statement said.

Um. Kid. Was bashing in car windows. Drunk and disorderly. Refused to give up his knife. Elsewhere I saw that he threatened death.

So I turn to Portland Indymedia, and get more of the same as this letter, I assume from entirely different personality types (ie Suburban dad versus Left-wing rebel Che t-shirt wearer):

I am shocked at this totally unecessary death. A kid who is angry, who is depressed and maybe gets a violent tantrum. This can be any of our children. Heck, this could be my teenage daughter, and It was the way I was way back when. Since when is shooting a means to calm down a boy in obvious pain and frustration? I can’t believe the Tigard Police is not trained to deal with this differently. I am completely appalled.

“Violent Tantrum” is an understatement. What the heck were the police supposed to do? I suppose the Che-t shirt wearers have the excuse that they are instinctively anti-cop, but the Tigarites are all about “Law and Order”: What’s their excuse for downplaying the “Violent Tantrum”? A bias toward upstanding high school football players?

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