Police shoot suicidal man outside home in Folwell neighborhood

Worried about a Nov. 9 text from Travis Matthew Jordan saying he planned to commit suicide, an individual reached 311, a line typically used for noise complaints or burnt-out streetlights.

“…He calls me all the time saying he wants to die, and I don’t know how to deal with it,” the caller said.

Minneapolis 311 routed the caller to 911, and officers pulled up to Jordan’s home at the 3700 block of Morgan Avenue North by the end of the call.

Jordan came out of the home with a weapon, according to police, and officers fired shots at him. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said Jordan, age 36, died the same afternoon of multiple gunshot wounds at North Memorial Health Hospital.

Police said body cameras were activated. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating.

Jordan, known as “T.J.,” grew up in Honolulu, where he worked as a sommelier and enjoyed surfing, according to his obituary. He moved to Minneapolis in 2012 and worked as a mixologist at several bars and restaurants.

The 311 caller said Jordan had been taking alcohol to deal with depression and anxiety. On Nov. 9, Jordan sent the caller a music video about suicide and cried on the phone, saying he didn’t want to live and didn’t want to think about his future anymore. He’d shown interest in obtaining a gun in the past, the caller said.

Hennepin County operates a 24-hour mobile crisis team and phone line. The number is 596-1223 for adults, and 348-2233 for youth 17 and under. The service is called Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies (COPE), and it’s projected to handle at least 40,000 phone calls and 7,000 site visits in 2018.

One-third of those calls come from people considering suicide, said Kay Pitkin, the county’s administrative manager of emergency mental health services. Other calls are related to issues like depression, psychosis, traumatic experiences or a child’s out-of-control behavior at school. Family members and neighbors can call as well. If someone is in immediate danger, they are advised to call 911, Pitkin said.

The same group is part of a pilot “co-responder” program that can be dispatched to police calls related to mental health. Based out of a 5th Precinct office, two co-responders typically working between 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. have responded to an estimated 985 calls in the 3rd and 5th Precincts through September this year. On the scene, they can start therapy and connect a person to food vouchers, or emergency cash assistance, or service providers they can call at any hour.

“The co-responder was very effective in this first year in keeping people out of jail, and keeping people from being arrested because of the mental health crisis,” Pitkin said. “There were only two instances of use of force. And for both of those, the person ended up not being charged and went to the hospital to receive the treatment they needed. That’s our intent. That’s what we like to see.”

Co-responders aren’t working in the 4th Precinct and were not sent to Jordan’s call. Under a policy that aims to protect the co-responders’ safety, they aren’t sent to scenes until police deem it safe.

Police Public Information Officer John Elder said they do not dispatch co-responders to incidents where there is the implication of a weapon or statements about a weapon.

“Half of the co-responder car is an unarmed civilian,” he said.

He advised that “when moments matter,” if a suicidal person has a knife or a gun, people should call 911 so dispatch can quickly send paramedics if needed.

Mayor Jacob Frey proposed making the co-responder pilot permanent in his 2019 budget, suggesting $74,000 in one-time funding and $206,000 in ongoing funding.

Activists including the Racial Justice Network are calling for immediate expansion of the program into North Minneapolis.

A service of remembrance for Jordan is Saturday, Nov. 17, followed by a gathering of family and friends at Starkson & Steffel Funeral & Cremation Service – McRaith Chapel in Waseca.

“He enjoyed skateboarding, drawing, animals and above all else entertaining, bringing his Aloha to Minnesota in every form of the word,” states his obituary. “His family will fondly remember the Love, Patience and Understanding that he shared throughout his life.”

For information about the county COPE line and strategies to prepare for a crisis, visit hennepin.us/residents/emergencies/mental-health-emergencies.

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