Transcripts of 911 calls from the evening when St. Paul police fatally shot and killed a suicidal man show that emergency dispatchers were warned about his mental health issues in the minutes before police arrived at his house.
The Sept. 24 shooting of Philip Quinn immediately raised questions from his family about how police handle calls involving mental health, but police said Wednesday that Quinn, carrying a screwdriver, failed to obey orders while advancing on an officer.
Quinn’s brother and fiancée said after his death that police should have used nonlethal force to subdue him. Another brother recently said the Quinn family did not want to comment about the ongoing case or the transcripts released by St. Paul police Wednesday.
Police spokesman Steve Linders said Wednesday that the department is still awaiting findings about the shooting from its Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission (PCIARC) and a separate grand jury proceeding in state court.
“What happened during the incident is that Philip Quinn charged at an officer in a very aggressive manner with a screwdriver in his hand,” Linders said. “The officer retreated as far as he possibly could while shouting instructions to Mr. Quinn to drop the weapon and stop.”
Linders said that Quinn ignored the officer’s commands, and that once the officer was “backed into the fence,” he “had to take action.”
Officer Rich McGuire shot Quinn. Officer Joe LaBathe was also at the scene. Both were placed on leave following the shooting, which is standard practice, but are back on duty.
“My understanding is that the officer simply didn’t have time to switch to less lethal force,” Linders said. “Mr. Quinn was advancing on him very quickly.”
Quinn’s fiancée, Darleen Tareeq, and one of his brothers, Jestin Quinn, have previously said that police were supposed to help, not hurt, Philip Quinn.
Tareeq has said that she first called 911 for a medic when she arrived at their home in the 600 block of Canton Street earlier in the day and saw that Quinn had stabbed himself several times and locked himself in the garage.
Quinn fled when police arrived, and they were unable to find him. He returned home about 5 p.m. and called his mother, Paulette Quinn, who drove to the house and called 911 three times.
In one call, Quinn’s mother tells the dispatcher that her son is schizophrenic, didn’t take his medication, was trying to commit suicide and that he needed to be committed to a hospital.
Paulette Quinn placed one of her calls after she arrived at the house.
“OK, I’m here at the house and you guys are supposed to be having those cops and everybody come,” she said, according to one of the transcripts. “He’s [expletive] scaring the hell out of me. He’s in the garage and he has a [expletive] screwdriver in his hand.”
In the same call, she said that her son was threatening to stab Tareeq, and that police “gotta be careful.”
Quinn’s shooting was the 13th officer-involved shooting in St. Paul since 2009 — the most by any department in the state.