Man who grazed Illinois police officer with bullet sent for mental evaluation

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The man was thought to be suicidal when officers engaged in a scuffle, the state's attorney said.

A man who shot and slightly injured an Illinois police officer during a scuffle underwent a psychiatric evaluation Friday, Union County State's Attorney Allen James said.

The suspect, who officials say was suicidal, was also slightly injured during the Thursday evening incident.

The officers' wounds were a minor grazing that occurred when a gun the man was holding discharged, James said.

James did not release the name of the man under evaluation, nor would he name the officer or his law enforcement agency. At the time of the scuffle, he said, there were between five and 10 officers from the Union County Sheriff's Department, the Illinois State Police and an area drug task force at the scene.

"It all worked out great," Union County Sheriff Jim Nash said. "It could have been very bad."

Officers were first called to the home in the northern part of the county along North Lick Creek Road because of a domestic battery report. A deputy contacted the victim of the alleged battery, who is married to the wounded man, at her location while an Illinois State Police trooper went to the home, Nash said.

When the trooper arrived, the man was outside his house with guns threatening suicide, Nash said. The trooper then called for backup.

When more officers arrived, they attempted to persuade the man to put down his guns and give himself up, Nash said. While he did relinquish one gun, he kept another, he said.

The gun fired after officers decided he truly intended to kill himself and they needed to prevent it, Nash said.

"They had talked to him for a long time," he said. "They had done everything to get him to put the gun down. They felt he was going to shoot himself, and that decision ended up in a scuffle."

The first call about the domestic battery came into dispatchers about 4:45 p.m., Nash said. Both the officer and the man were being treated at a hospital In Anna, Ill., by 7 p.m., James said.

The victim of the alleged battery wasn't seriously injured, Nash said. He did not recall deputies being called to the home previously because of domestic violence.

The prosecutor's office was waiting for reports on both the incident between the man and officers and the domestic battery before filing charges, James said.

Reports will probably be available Monday, he said. The man will undergo psychiatric evaluation for a few days, he said, which means prosecutors will have time to evaluate the evidence before deciding on which, if any, charges to file.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611 extension 126

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