EDINGBURG, N.Y. (NEWS10) – After the death of a Saratoga County man was ruled suicide by cop, a former police captain said officers are specially trained how to deal with those situations.
Late Monday night, Saratoga County Sheriff deputies and New York State Police were in a situation retired Troy Police Captain John Cooney called “suicide by cop.”
When 51-year-old Richard LaPort called 911, he told officers he wanted to harm himself – a call that sends red flags.
“You know right away it will be a difficult situation,” Capt. Cooney said.
Longtime friend Lisa Burroughs said LaPort was a good man who cared for his family, but his mindset started to change in the last couple of years.
“He took the loss of his father very badly, and that might have been the snowball that started rolling,” she said.
Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said LaPort was armed with a shotgun when law enforcement arrived at his home on Foxhill Road.
Officers tried negotiating with him for 40 minutes, but things took a turn for the worse when LaPort came out of his home and leveled his shotgun at three officers.
“Two members of the sheriff’s office and one state trooper fired upon LaPort striking him at least once in the torso,” he said.
LaPort was declared dead at the scene. An autopsy determined his death was the result of a single gunshot wound to the chest as the result of suicide by police.
Sheriff Zurlo stands by his officers. He called the shooting justified.
Capt. Cooney said it’s a shot that law enforcement officers never want to make, but in that kind of situation, they have no choice.
“Once the threat of serious injury or death is presented by a subject to another or to the officer, the officer is justified, and in fact, is expected to utilize the option of deadly force,” he explained.
The three officers who shot LaPort are on administrative leave pending an investigation by state police and the sheriff’s office.
Captain Cooney said placing the officers on administrative leave is a necessary step because “suicide by cop” can be as emotional for the officers as it is for the family who lost a loved one.
He said the situation is best addressed by taking the officer off the street and giving the officer time to regroup and be in a less stressful environment during the investigative process.