Two officers in Florida have been placed on leave and a family is demanding answers after a suicidal man was shot and killed by police over the weekend.
The mother of 43-year-old Arthur Dixon Jr. called St. Petersburg police on Sunday evening because he doused himself with gasoline and threatened to take his own life.
Neighbor Ray Wuest told The Tampa Bay Times that he went into Dixon’s home and found the man soaked with gas and smoking a cigarette. Wuest said that he mopped up the gas and took the cigarette, but police told him to leave after they arrived.
St. Petersburg police spokesperson Mike Puetz said that Dixon had been “belligerent and threatening” when officers tried to negotiate with him.
At around 7:30 p.m., the suicidal man allegedly ran at Officers Devin Jones and Curtis Wright with scissors while they were stationed at the back of the house. Both officers opened fire, hitting Dixon in the torso multiple times. He was transported to Bayfront Medical Center and pronounced dead at around 10 p.m.
Dixon’s mother, Lydia Andrews, told Bay News 9 that officers did not have to shoot her son.
“The police assured me that they weren’t going to hurt him, that they were concerned for his safety,” she explained. “He has no weapons, he’s never hurt anyone ever. So, they forced him out the back of the house and they shot him three times.”
“I want to know why they shot him, he had no weapons and he’s drunk,” she continued. “He has a traumatic brain injury, he’s blind in one eye, can’t see well out of the other. Why did they shoot him?”
But the St. Petersburg police spokesperson insisted that officers had been threatened by the scissors.
“Scissors are a deadly weapon,” Puetz said in a statement. “They can cause great harm. They can be just as dangerous as a knife.”
Wuest said that Dixon had been a landscaper who became disabled after suffering a traumatic brain injury.
“If they would have left us alone with him, we could have gotten him out of the house,” Wuest lamented.
Officers Jones and Wright have been placed on administrative leave pending a routine investigation.
Watch this video from WTSP, broadcast March 11, 2013.