Janesville police report shooting Taser to stop man in Friday incident

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Frank Schultz
Friday, November 3, 2017

JANESVILLEJanesville police officers avoided firing their guns at a man Friday morning and used a Taser instead.

The man told officers he would reach for their weapons, and he appeared to be inviting officers to shoot him, according to a police news release.

It probably would be fair to describe the incident as attempted suicide by cop, said Sgt. Dean Sukus.

Sukus said police were quick to tell the public about the incident, in part because they wanted to show they are practicing what they’ve been training for: using the lowest level of force needed in dangerous situations.

Officers were called to an apartment building at 1325 Laramie Lane at 7:30 a.m. Friday for a domestic disturbance, Sukus said.

They encountered an intoxicated Trevor E. Prevatt, 28, in a hallway, and Prevatt “lunged” at an officer, Sukus said.

“He was deflected away,” and officers tried to talk to him, according to the release.

If there’s time and opportunity, talking is the first thing officers are supposed to try, Sukus said, and officers did try to talk him down.

But Prevatt was having none of it. Sukus said Prevatt said words to the effect of, “The next time, I’m going to get your gun, and I see you’re carrying a 9mm, and I’m going to get the gun, and you’re going to have to shoot me.”

He told officers he was a mixed martial arts fighter, which for officers tends to increase the seriousness of the situation, Sukus said.

He said Prevatt started a countdown, saying he was going to go for the handgun in 3, 2 ...

“We knew it was coming, and we wanted to make sure that was not going to happen,” Sukus said.

That’s when an officer pulled and fired his Taser. Sukus called the electric-shock device “highly effective.”

Police arrested Prevatt on charges of attempting to disarm a police officer and disorderly conduct as an act of domestic abuse.

Officers here and in many other jurisdictions are trained to try to de-escalate dangerous situations, but sometimes an officer still might have to use his handgun, Sukus said.

“It would heavily depend on the officer’s perception of what’s going to happen,” Sukus said. “We always think in terms of, we have to stop that threat, and if that officer would feel the officer’s weapon would be compromised, it potentially could be a deadly-force situation.”

Janesville officers understand that Janesville is not immune from what happens elsewhere in the country, Sukus said, so they and the community have to be prepared for the possibility that “things could go really wrong.”

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