Police responding to a call about a possibly suicidal man were confronted by a knife-wielding suspect, who yelled threats and jabbed the knife in the direction of an officer, according to allegations in court documents.
Joshua Armstrong, 29, was arrested May 28 on suspicion of first-degree assault (against a peace officer), menacing and obstruction a peace officer.
Formal charges are pending. Armstrong was no longer in custody Tuesday. He has been set for a June 17 court appearance.
Montrose Police Department Sgt. Jason English was working patrol the evening of May 28 when a woman called to report Armstrong, her ex-husband, had sent texts and emails to her, threatening to hang himself.
When English and another officer arrived at Armstrong’s home, he allegedly flung open the door, displaying a knife with a blade about 6 inches long. He moved the knife up, with the blade’s edge and point oriented toward English, the sergeant wrote in an arrest affidavit.
English began backing away and drew his service weapon, ordering Armstrong to drop the knife.
Although he stopped advancing once the officer’s gun was drawn, Armstrong yelled “I’m only going to tell you one time, get off my property,” and “Step out to the sidewalk right now, I swear to God,” while jabbing the knife toward English, the affidavit alleges.
Armstrong further crudely told English to shut his mouth as the officer tried to calm him down. English slowly backed away and kept trying to talk to Armstrong as Armstrong “took multiple steps toward me while reaching his hand with the knife outward my direction,” English wrote.
English kept putting distance between himself and Armstrong, but was concerned that Armstrong would go back inside while he was upset and possibly suicidal. “I knew if he retreated inside his residence, officers would not follow him inside for obvious safety reasons. I believed there was a good chance with the facts that were known, he would attempt to kill himself,” English wrote.
English deployed his Taser so that Armstrong could be disarmed and detained, but it was ineffective and Armstrong then went back into his home.
He began calling out from behind the closed door and also started showing his hands through small windows before coming back out, “much calmer” and without a knife, English said in the affidavit.
Armstrong denied being suicidal and when English told him he’d made things “more complicated” by threatening with a knife, Armstrong reportedly said “something to the effect of, ‘it makes it funnier.’”
Armstrong was detained and taken to the hospital for medical clearance; on the trip in, his mood shifted back and forth between crying and laughing. Once there, Armstrong reportedly told the officer he wished he’d pulled the trigger.
“He asked me what it was like to have a ‘good life’ and at one point stated he was planning on killing himself until law enforcement showed up,” English wrote in the affidavit.
No officers were injured during the encounter. The way the law is written makes a first-degree assault charge possible when a peace officer is threatened in the way Armstrong is alleged to have done; again, formal charges are pending.
“The officers did a great job in taking a situation that was highly dangerous and bringing it to the safest resolution possible,” Montrose Police Cmdr. Matt Smith said.
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.