Body cam footage shows police try for an hour to save suicidal man’s life

JONESBORO, Ark. – Body camera footage from the stand-off on Monday, January 18, that ended with a man’s death was released Tuesday morning by the Jonesboro Police Department.

The video begins with an officer attempting a traffic stop. The subject only provides his ID and no insurance and after several minutes, refuses to comply with police and step out of the vehicle. The man talks about his life being messed up.

The first video you’ll see is Sergeant John Porbeck’s body camera footage from when he made the initial traffic stop, police said. This footage will not stop throughout the whole video. When the subject pulls the gun, you will also see Officer Jeremy Wheelis’ body camera footage as he tries to deescalate the situation for over an hour. At the end, you’ll see Sgt Porbeck’s body camera come up again as the entry team uses the less lethal shotgun to break the vehicle’s window and secure the scene.

At 6:40 in the video, he pulls a gun. The officers try to talk to him for an hour. One of the Officers, Wheelis, seems to earnestly try to save the man’s life. However, it appears the individual was experiencing a mental break of some type.  At 1:07:30, the suspect says “My life is over. Goodbye.” He stops responding. Seconds later, officers report that they think they heard a shot fired. Then they report the gun fell. The suspect was mortally wounded. He was still moving in the moments after, as officers observed. With a gun still nearby, officers were forced to act carefully.

Toward the end of the video, around 1:24:00, officers used a “less lethal shotgun” to fire bean bag rounds in order to break the vehicle’s window and get to the man. It was too late. The subject, Patrick Alston, passed away at the scene.

However, pedestrians watching while live streaming to social media suggested that officers had been responsible for shooting the suspect. Police say that did not happen. The video appears to confirm the police version of events.

Our office posted a press release detailing the events of this incident. Shortly thereafter, we were made aware of a Facebook Live video that seemed to show a different side of what happened, along with enthusiastic commentary. We want to release this body camera footage so you get a chance to see the incident for yourself. We are proud of how all officers handled this very unfortunate situation.

Sometimes, as a third party viewer, we may watch something and not understand what is happening. We may paint a picture to others about what we see or hear, or what we believe to be seeing or hearing, even if it’s not the full truth. – JPD

Generally, police do not voluntarily release videos of suicide-related incidents. However, when a narrative is created that is factually incorrect, it puts police in the difficult position of respecting the privacy of family versus proving to the public that what they say happened is true.


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