Alameda County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jeffery Hazelitt has spent 24 years in service, drawing on creative solutions when possible to avoid drawing his gun, FOX 2 reported.
Hazelitt recently found himself in a situation that required exactly that kind of thinking: A man was running between terminals in Oakland International Airport at 6 a.m. Tuesday, threatening to kill himself with a knife.
The man ended up barricading himself in a baggage carousel in Terminal 1. When Hazelitt arrived, the man was holding a 7-inch knife to his own neck and begging deputies to shoot him.
“I definitely feared for my life,” Hazelitt told FOX 2. “But more importantly, I feared for his life.”
Hazelitt said he didn’t want to see the man harmed.
“Everybody has a story,” he explained. “I’m not sure what his story is. I don’t know what caused his mental health crisis at this time.”
Hazelitt then keyed in on the fact the man was wearing a jacket — so he called the director of airport operations and requested that they turn off the air conditioning and crank up the heat.
The man started to sweat. As soon as he started to take off his jacket, Hazelitt used a taser to subdue the man and wrestled the knife from him.
The man was taken to John George psychiatric hospital in San Leandro, the sheriff’s office said. He was not arrested for what happened at the airport, though he was wanted in another county on an outstanding warrant.
“I just saw the opportunity to get him warm and uncomfortable,” the officer said.
Hazelitt downplayed his creativity, even as experts and commanding officers praised his quick thinking and calm nerves.
“Sergeant Hazelitt is a trained professional,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Tya Modeste said. “His actions on Tuesday were indicative of who he is as a person and a professional. He’s passionate about his job, and he always puts others before himself.”
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