Cops Amass on Duane Street Over Fears of Suicide, Chance of Violence

Outside 135 Duane Street, medics and helmeted police took precautions for an uncertain outcome to efforts by officers upstairs to defuse a possible suicide. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib 

Sep. 04, 2017

A legion of cops, including hostage negotiators and helmeted Emergency Service officers, descended on Duane Street in Tribeca Sunday evening, turning the quiet block between West Broadway and Church Street into a scene that appeared to onlookers as a hostage crisis.

For about an hour police closed off the street and sidewalk for what turned out to be an effort by cops to prevent a feared suicide attempt by a resident of 135 Duane Street.

Capt. Richard Taylor, executive officer of the 1st Precinct, told the Trib in a telephone interview that the therapist of the man had called police to report that his patient had talked of hurting himself.

Emergency Service Unit officers tried to convince the man to open the door, Taylor said, and was continually met with the same response. “He just kept telling us to leave him alone, leave him alone, he wants to do what he wants to do. We said we want to make sure you don’t hurt yourself. And he said that’s between me and God.”

Taylor said that when a person is a potential danger to themselves they may also be a threat to others. (It was later determined that the man was alone and Taylor said he was aware of no weapon.)

“Out of caution to start a professional dialogue we did call for the hostage negotiation team and of course the Emergency Service Unit,” Taylor said. “After talking to him for about 45 minutes we said if you don’t come out we’re going to come in and make sure you’re okay.”

“He just didn’t understand why we can’t walk away,” Taylor continued. “He said I’m talking to you at the door. Why can’t you just walk away? We said we can’t. We said we will break down the door. We didn’t want to break down the door, obviously. We said look through the peep hole, you can see what we have out here. We had crazy tools [for breaking through the door].

Police finally convinced the man, whose name was being withheld, that he had no choice but to open the door, Taylor said. He was taken to a waiting ambulance in handcuffs and transported to Bellevue Hospital for observation but, Taylor noted, was not placed under arrest.

“I think it was handled magnificently,” the captain said.