Pima County deputy uses restraint in potential deadly-force incident
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - We are learning more about a tense confrontation between a Pima County Deputy and a man who had stopped his car near a busy foothills intersection.
It happened around 7:45 Wednesday morning near the intersection of Sunrise and Swan.
A black, late-model Mercedes either broke down or wasn't moving in the right-hand land at eastbound Swan.
Witnesses say the driver was unresponsive or appeared to be in some kind of daze.
Pima County Sheriff's Department immediately responded to see what was going on.
What happened next is a perfect example of how law enforcement must expect and respond to the unexpected.
At a glance, the scene Wednesday seemed relatively routine: officers responding to what may have been an incapacitated car at a busy intersection.
But Deputy Kevin Gardner quickly found out.
"He grabbed a walking stick or cane and thrust it at me and hit me in the chest," Gardner says -- referring to the man behind the wheel.
The interaction with this dazed driver was anything but ordinary.
"He got away from my grasp, was able to reach into the center console and pull out a six-inch folding knife. He opened it up and displayed it at me at that point," Gardner says.
The seasoned deputy, with nearly 20 years of law enforcement experience, immediately stepped back and drew not his gun, but his Taser.
"I want to keep him in the position to where I can maintain control without having to go to deadly force," he says. "That's obviously the last resort I want to go to."
It wasn't until the driver moved toward a citizen who had stopped to assist did the deputy actually have to use the stun gun.
Officials say the 67-year-old subject immediately went down, but held on to the knife for several minutes.
It wasn't until another deputy went into the man's car and found his identification…did he actually surrender.
That's because he heard an officer say his name.
"At that point we told him, 'Edward, we need you to put that knife down.' I think he realized what the situation was. He saw several deputies with guns and Tasers on him and he realized the situation, what it was. He looked at the knife and threw it to the side."
We've learned that the driver involved in this ordeal recently left his wife in California without explanation. We're told he's a Vietnam veteran who is bi-polar and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
He could face local charges for what happened Wednesday. But in the meantime, he has been admitted into Pima County's Mental Health Services.
The investigation is ongoing.
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