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Elmwood Park police officers stop knife-wielding man in suicide-by-cop attempt

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

SHOUT OUTS: “Shoot me!” a troubled man shouted at a quartet of Elmwood Park police officers who approached him in a dimly lit apartment room as he reached for a knife in his waistband last night.

Preventing what could have been a tragedy, Lt. Marc D’Amore blasted the man with pepper spray and his colleagues — Officers Gerald Chiavelli, Christopher Finn, Daniel Martinez — wrestled him to the floor and into handcuffs.

Clarence Smith’s sister summoned them to the second-floor Summit Avenue apartment at 7:19 p.m., Police Chief Michael Foligno told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this afternoon.

She directed them to the room, where an agitated Smith began yelling at them, the chief said.

The officers “attempted to defuse the situation by trying to reason with him,” Foligno said, but Smith “reached into his waistband to retrieve the knife.”

“Shoot me!” he shouted over and again, advancing on Martinez in an apparent attempt at “suicide by cop,” the chief said.

So D’Amore sprayed him in the face.

After subduing him, the officers retrieved two knives, Folingo said.

No he nor the officers were injured, he said.

Smith was taken to Bergen Regional Medical Center for treatment. Charges were pending, the chief said.

“The officers will be commended for their outstanding split-second decision-making during a life and death situation,” Foligno said. “Their ability to use non-lethal force under duress in a situation that would have warranted higher levels of force — and to do so without anyone sustaining an injury — is a credit to their training and professionalism.”

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