KISSIMMEE, Fla. – On June 14, several weeks after the death of George Floyd, Kissimmee Police officers were called to a report of a man on a sidewalk throwing bricks at business windows.
Sgt. Craig Putriment, KPD's sergeant over training and recruiting, said even after his officers arrived, the man continued to throw bricks.
"They immediately recognized this is not a person who's not trying to commit crimes," Putriment said. "He appears that he's not in his right state of mind, so through training, officers know we needed to try and de-escalate the situation."
Putriment said in 2016, KPD implemented ethical policing to make sure all citizens are treated with respect, equality and justice.
Officers are regularly trained to de-escalate a situation using words, if possible.
"As the situation de-escalates, we are required to de-escalate," Putriment said. "We also have a program in place to make sure we're policing one another."
When officers encountered the man, they tried to talk him into pulling his hands out of his pockets.
"It's concerning because we have had situations in Kissimmee for the reason people are placing their hands on their waist band or keeping them in a pocket because that's where their gun is," Putriment said.
Still, officers tried to talk to the man.
"We can find you some help but what I need you to do is take your hands out of your pockets right now," the officer told the man.
"No!" the man replied.
Body camera video shows officers for several minutes trying to have a conversation with the man, asking him his name and how they could help.
"I'm the king," the man repeated. "I'm the king of the world."
By this time, several other officers had arrived, closed the road, and surrounded him. But they continued to talk and continued to ask him to show his hands.
Suddenly, the man pulled a knife from his pocket and officers rushed him, trying to subdue the man and secure his hand.
One officer put a knee on the man's arm, another on the man's other arm, another on the man's leg, and another on the man's back, but not on his head or neck.
"We do try to keep it away from the head and neck, that's not an area that we want to place a knee," Putriment said.
Officers are regularly trained in safe, effective defensive tactics and techniques, including restraining a person's legs, arms and back, but never one's head.
Most patrol officers on the street have also been trained in crisis intervention.
And KPD reviews its response to resistance every year, Putriment said.
“I think there may be some departments out there saying, ‘What we need to change’ and when we looked at our training and our curriculum and what we had already planned for this year, we don’t have to make changes,” Putriment said. “We just need to keep doing what we’re doing because we’re doing the right thing all along.”
After officers pinned the man to the ground using proven defensive techniques, according to Putriment, it took tasing the man to force him to open his hand and drop the knife.
As soon as officers handcuffed him, they sat him up, began speaking with him again, and got him medical attention.
Putriment said the man was OK and received help.
However, Putriment warned that had officers seen the man’s knife in the beginning, they would not have been as “nice.”
Officers would not have gone hands-on, Putriment said, if they could see the man was holding a deadly weapon.
Officers are justified in using deadly force when a suspect attempts to use deadly force, Putriment said.