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Family of Slain Autistic College Student: We Called for an Ambulance Not Police

Long Beach grandmother who called 9-1-1 tells Patch she asked for medical help for her suicidal grandson. "The officer said, 'You called for help,' and I said, 'I called for an ambulance, not police with guns.'"

The family of a Long Beach college student fatally shot by police Sept. 11 said they called 9-1-1 for an ambulance because he was depressed and suicidal, and told officers who arrived with guns that he was autistic.

The grandmother of David Jordan, 20, whose autism she said resulted in an IQ of an 8-year-old, told Patch Monday she had called 9-1-1 in the past to have medics help get David to a hospital when depression left him wanting "to see God."

Mrs. Jordan, who declined to give her first name, said the ambulance or medics "helped us get him help at the hospital when he resisted, because he was so depressed."

That scenario is what Mrs. Jordan said she expected last week Tuesday when she answered David's text asking her to come home and help him. He'd taken the bus home from his second day at Cypress College, where he was enrolled in classes.

Mrs. Jordan's description of what resulted in David Jordan's fatal shooting by a Long Beach Police Department officer in the family's kitchen profoundly differ from the police version of events, right down to who placed the 9-1-1 call.

"I didn't call the police; I called the ambulance because he needed immediate medical help," said Mrs. Jordan. She adopted him at age 3 or 4 and said he did not learn to speak until age 9. David called her "grandmother," she said.

"I told them he had autism. I told 9-1-1, and then when I opened the door to the police, I told them," she said. "They had guns in their hands."

The Long Beach Police Department has announced that it will not respond to any additional questions nor comment further until investigations into the shooting are completed. Since the coroner's office may need forensics tests, such investigations can take months.

The police department's statement, released the following day at 5:22 p.m., said David Jordan's stepmother phoned 9-1-1 at 1:45 p.m. the day of the shooting to report "he was inside the house, armed with a knife, threatening her, and yelling that he wanted the police to kill him."

The call came in to "the department’s Communications Center," the release said. According to the release, officers approached the house and, "concerned the residents could become hostages or injured by the suspect, they attempted to evacuate the two females inside the residence. While the officers were at the front door trying to get the residents out, one of them made contact with Suspect Jordan, ordering him to put the knife down. The suspect lunged towards one of the officers with the knife, causing the officer to discharge his weapon. At the same time, the suspect threw the knife at the officer. The suspect then armed himself with a second knife, again moved towards the officer in a threatening manner, causing the officer to discharge his weapon a second time."

There was no mention in the release that David Jordan was autistic, nor that the 9-1-1 dispatcher and arriving officers were told that he was autistic as Mrs. Jordan alleges. Mrs. Jordan spoke to Patch by phone. 

Mrs. Jordan's cousin, who asked not to be named, spoke to those in the house at the time of the shooting and provided Patch with details of the events they reported as well.

The cousin said David was about five feet tall. The front door of the house opens to a short hallway from which you can only turn right or left into the kitchen. The cousin said the front door is two feet from the kitchen, which is about eight feet by eight feet, including cabinetry and appliances.

"He did have a table knife, which I would guess was a steak knife, and he was seven feet away from the officer, if he didn't lunge at him," the cousin said. He said David was shot at from close range three or four times and that some bullets missed. David's great-grandmother was also in the kitchen, two family members said.

Mrs. Jordan did not want to discuss the knife. Had medics not officers responded, David would be alive, she said.

Asked how police reacted, Mrs. Jordan said: "He said, 'You asked for help,' and I said, 'I didn't ask for you guys. I asked for an ambulance. You killed him.'"

She said David worked immensely hard to graduate from Lakewood High School in five years with the help of special needs accommodations and programs. And he was proud to enroll in college. He came home early from classes because he didn't feel well the day he was shot, Mrs. Jordan said.

After the shooting, the police department said the officers immediately performed CPR to save Jordan's life but could not. No officers were injured, and the department said the shooting was being investigated by the police department, the coroner and the district attorney's office as is protocol in cop shootings. In practice, the district attorney's office typically doesn't start investigating until the police case is completed. 

Patch requested the 9-1-1- tapes of the incident Friday but Long Beach police Sgt. Aaron Eaton said they would not be released while the shooting is under investigation.

Patch will continue to update this story with details of the case this afternoon so check back soon.

Mike Kowal September 18, 2012 at 04:56 PM
At this point in time the 911 tape will clear up much of what the public has been told. I can't think of any reason the police would not release it?
Mike Ruehle September 18, 2012 at 05:52 PM
No one else is talking about it because ALL MEDIAS (except the Patch) published ONLY the "police version" of what happened. Most commentors to the "police version" indicated David Jordan "got what he deserved" or was "suicide by cop." Doesn't it make you wonder why the cops won't release the tapes of the 911 call if they have been truthful? Doesn't it make you wonder how often this type of police action occurs? Doesn't it make you wonder how many cops shot at David Jordan, how many bullets were fired and how many times he was hit? Doesn't it make you wonder how many shootings these same officers have been involved in. Doesn't make you wonder whether you can believe anything the police tell you? For those wondering, John B. Greet is a recently retired Long Beach Police officer known for attempting to justify police misconduct.
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 18, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Thank you for your thoughts, Steven. I've e-mailed you privately and hope you'll respond.
Carolyn Gammicchia September 18, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Most officers are trained to not allow an individual armed with a knife within 21 feet of them. Additionally this man was indicated to be suicidal and also living with a mental health disorder he had been hospitalized for previously. Officers had concerns for others living in the home as well as preserving this individual's life. The response what the officers were trained to do and this is an unfortunate incident that happened, a life lost, perhaps because a situation escalated and this man nor his family had the proper supports. We will pray for David Jordan, his family, his community and these officers because it is not a situation anyone wants to end in this way.
Carolyn Gammicchia September 18, 2012 at 08:20 PM
www.leanonus.org has resources for families on mental health disorders and police response as well as specific materials for autism that were developed via the Department of Justice and the Office for Victims of Crime. They are free and on the website. There are also trainings available in CA and we assisted the LAPD with their training for ASD. Additionally we developed an eight hour training in MI that covers a variety of disabilities, including mental health disorders and autism. It is essential as well that families are prepared for crisis situations to allow for all important information to be provided. Local departments also can create 911 data base entry registries so that individuals can voluntarily enter someone to provide information on how best to respond and assist the person. There is a sample document on the website. Thank you and please know that there are folks working with police to ensure proper supports are in place. As a community we need to work together in a 50/50 partnership to ensure this is accomplished.
Mig M. September 18, 2012 at 08:59 PM
I am a father of a 8-year old high functioning autistic. I am sick and tired of hearing and reading news of police in North America of shooting and tasering to death people who have mental problems. It is so convenient for them to pull the trigger and get it over. It is about time that the US and Canada have mandatory training in dealing with these type of situation. These mentally challenged people are NOT CRIMINALS.
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 18, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Carolyn, the FBI trains officers to stay outside 20 feet from someone with a knife, so that is a fairly uniform standard. That said, the kitchen was no more than eight feet end to end, and two more feet to the door makes 10 feet. That would be half the safe distance when Mrs. Jordan met officers at the door, where she has said she told them he was autistic.
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 18, 2012 at 10:09 PM
If there is anyone here with a contact at the LBPost, someone might want to tell them that the story they rewrote with Patch's reporting incorrectly refers to a cousin as a she discussing the knife. That cousin is a man.
Mike Ruehle September 18, 2012 at 10:27 PM
The police may not want to release the 911 call to cover their collective butts if the call does not contain the police's published version of the story about how Jordon WANTED to be killed by police, or maybe the dispatcher warned police that Jordon had autism and was in need of an ambulance. Maybe this is similar to when the Long Beach police officer ran over a mother of 4 young children in a cross walk and claimed the woman jumped in front of the police car (suicide by cop) that was traveling the speed limit, only to later learn in court that the police officer lied and was traveling at a high rate of speed at night without his flashing lights on. Maybe the police's story is made up to cover their misconduct. Sure would be nice to have that 911 call released. Long Beach police release 911 calls when it makes them look good to the public, but don't when they have something to be concerned about.
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 18, 2012 at 10:42 PM
And also, someone emailed me to ask if we had the family's permission to run David Jordan's Facebook picture. We do, and we are the only media outlet that asked and obtained that permission. Patch policy is that we do not run Facebook photos without permission. In this case, we especially felt that it was important because David Jordan would not have really understood privacy protection.
Carolyn Gammicchia September 18, 2012 at 11:37 PM
I'm a little confused here. There is indication that David graduated from high school and was attending college. The article indicates his IQ was that of an eight year old child. Was he independent enough to access the community alone? He had a FB page as well so he obviously was capable of that. Additionally Mr. Figeuroa the family called because this man was in crisis and they wanted him hospitalized because he was threatening suicide. If he was calm and docile, why didn't they just transport him themselves? Was he perhaps taking medication that resulted in behavioral challenges which may not have existed before? That has happened for individuals with ASD and a mental health disorder, adverse reaction to medication. This young man had a knife, even in close proximity to the officers, he also could have harmed the others present, not once but twice. It's not about the police waiting to see if they will be stabbed or another person harmed or if the person will indeed harm themselves at that point. That seems to be missed here. If this young man had stabbed and killed a family member the police would be in question for then not responding or not reacting. They can't take that chance in a deadly force situation. Just to let you know as well we have a son with autism and I had a brother who had epilepsy and AS and had several encounters with police where they did not recognize he was in a seizure state. We need to look toward solutions, not place blame.
John B. Greet September 19, 2012 at 03:38 AM
"John, I didn't speak about every situation..." Perhaps, then, you should consider avoiding blanket statements such as: "My basic training says to reduce the terror and no one will be injured." "I simply recounted that in my experience such situations with autistic people are about FEAR not violence." Still, you do understand that other people may have experiences that differ from yours, yes? "In general the police seem to respond with violence to things they do not understand." There are many reasons that officers resort to the use of force, and most of them have nothing to do with a lack of understanding. Do you have any evidence to suggest that these officers did not understand Jordan's condition? The fact that they resorted to violence in this case is not evidence of your assertion, given, as I stated, that there are many reasons officers sometimes resort to the use of force. "My training includes NON_VIOLENT responses to dangerous situations. Does yours?" Sure, but non-violent responses are not always effective or appropriate under every circumstance. Perhaps a non-violent response was neither effective nor appropriate in this case. more
John B. Greet September 19, 2012 at 03:52 AM
"Every day people who work with autistic people experience situations that MIGHT become violent." And every day, thousands of times a day across the country, cops resolve encounters with the developmentally disabled without resorting to force. One size does not fit all, though, and force unfortunately sometimes proves necessary. Was it truly necessary in this case? Don't know. That's what the investigations will help us determine. "What is documented so far is one of violent response to a dangerous situation." You would agree, though, that you have not yet seen all of the documentation, yes? "As to my basic training, 20 years of learning non-violent responses is not basic." Then why did you refer to your training as "basic training?" "Sadly the police seem to have only one form of training." Would you agree that what "seems" true to you is not always, in fact, the truth? I think LBPD delivers more training than the State mandates (when it is allowed to actually run an academy, of course.) on dealing with the mentally ill, emotionally disturbed and developmentally disabled. Should they receive more? I think so. I think all police officers should receive a lot more training in a lot of areas. Unfortunately training budgets and schedules are not infinite and I think LBPD does better than most agencies in the training it delivers to its officers.
John B. Greet September 19, 2012 at 04:03 AM
"No one else is talking about it because ALL MEDIAS (except the Patch) published ONLY the "police version" of what happened." I think a lot of people are talking about it, everywhere the story has been covered so far. I think it is very common for the first media reporting of such a tragedy (as The Patch's also was) to be little more than a recitation or summary of the PD press release because that is often the only version of the story to report upon at first. As more information comes to light, more is added to the narrative. Ruehle's habitual spin on virtually all LBPD news stories is to assume the worst of the officers involved, even when there is often no evidence of wrong-doing. It is one thing to ask questions and seek factual information upon which to base one's judgments. It is quite another to virtually always (as Ruehle does) condemn our officers as guilty until they are proven innocent, rather than the converse. Yes, I am a retired LBPD sergeant. I would have hoped that would have been clear to most when I referenced some of my prior work experience at LBPD in responding to Nancy, earlier. I have never once attempted to justify police misconduct and I challenge Ruehle to offer any factual evidence to support his claim. He will not do so, because there is none, because I have never done what he claims.
John B. Greet September 19, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Patch is doing a great job on this story. Thanks, Nancy!
John B. Greet September 19, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Calm yourself, Ruehle. 911 recordings are public record and will certainly come out at some point unless the Court grants an injunction to keep them from being disclosed. Whatever will you do when they are released if they do not support your latest theories of conspiracy and cover-up? Will you offer any apologies or retractions? Or, as you typically do when proven wrong, simply remain silent in the face of the evidence against you, and move on to the next high profile police incident and your next round of condemnation?
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Carolyn, the point is to provide information, not pass judgment nor assume anything, and that would seem to include not assuming the family lacked support (church for starters) or training (state-trained programs grandmother took since David was 2). As the mother of a son with autism, you obviously understand the range of severity and intellect. And I know 8 and 10 year olds who created Facebook pages, so it isn't as challenging as learning how to take the bus to Cypress College. Are you from Southern California?
Marco September 19, 2012 at 04:45 AM
It amazes me what people say and think. Btw I am his uncle.. more like a brother. Just wanted to say thank you Nancy Wride.
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 05:27 AM
Marcos, I am sorry for your loss, I appreciate the photo and loaded it onto another article soon to post. Feel free to email me other photos if it is easier nancy.wride@patch.com.
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 05:38 AM
Carolyn, does www.leanonus.org charge training and speaking fees to private families with autism, or are the fees mentioned on your business site primarily to conferences and police agencies (you mentioned you trained LAPD but I'm not sure what ASD is?) I see you and your husband at your website (leanonus) in police uniforms so wondering if you are sworn police officers in Michigan? Thanks for the above information.
Carolyn Gammicchia September 19, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Nancy I offered the resource with free information. We did not train the LAPD but provide them resources to assist with their ASD training initiative. ASD is Autism Spectrum Disorder. My husband and I have over fifty years combined experience as officers in Michigan. Our agency developed an eight hour training that is certified in MI that covers mental health disorders, autism, dementia, etc. additionally we've worked on several Department of Justice programs specific to responding to crime victims with disabilities. I personally am now a victim's right advocate because my brother died due to a restraint death. I do what I do because I don't want our son to die like my brother did nor like David did. I was asking for information because this is a heartbreaking incident for all involved and I want to ensure if possible it does not happen again. That is why it is do important to know what transpired. You can call us Ms. Wride if you need additional information and for families, please use the free resources. I didn't post here for any other reason than to provide support to a community if possible. The ASD community which is ours too. Thank you for covering this story.
just me September 19, 2012 at 06:37 AM
Carolyn David Jordan graduated age 19 he was in special ED. He didn't know how to work fb. He was so confused he was actually trying to delete it. He only had fb for less then a year. The reason his grandmother couldn't transport him herself.Cause he was angry. and she didn't want him to hurt himself. She was scared for his life. David is harmless he just learned to ride a bike couple of years ago. I dont think he can even jump rope. A year ago they barely showed him to catch the city bus himself. I told David grand mother to call nancy wride to tell her her side of the story. The neighbors hurt gun shots back to back. NO pause at all. Why? so many shots. he is a little guy one shot to the chest would put him down. I read one article that the officer shot him after he threw the first knife..And then shot him again cause he was getting another one..OMG.. Can this get more stupid. He got shot in close range their wasn't no where to move in that kitchen. Shot 3 times in the chest. and three missed..And you know why they missed the three shots..Cause poor david was trying to hide and that's when they shot him the other three times..I just want the story to be told the truth...He was a good kid that just wanted to fit in with everyone..He didn't deserve this..I am a family member of David i won't say who i am. But i know the story very well..Thanks Nancy Wride
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 07:36 AM
Thanks for the free info, Carolyn, and it is an interesting perspective to have shared here: a cop, who is a parent of an autistic son, and the sister of a man who died in police restraint, who does training of law enforcement and advocacy for disabilities, and who lobbies for good policies. Thank you for sharing details of your family member, 'just me.'
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 04:12 PM
David Jordan's obituary and funeral arrangements are in this new article just posted: http://patch.com/A-xPZT
Carolyn Gammicchia September 19, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Nancy just to clarify my brother was arrested several times while in a seizure and beaten and jailed by officers on several occasions due to his accessing the community and then also being subjected to horrific harassment of neighbors in a income property that he owned. One night he had wandered after a seizure and the police were called, he was arrested and someone set fire to his home. It was a nightmare for our family. His death however occured at the hands of medical professionals not officers. As a parent who worries about their son, who also has autism, I only wanted to see why this occured. It's a tragedy and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I do hope the community comes out to support them and ensure this will not happen to someone else within those efforts. It is wonderful to see also those that love and support him providing a better picture of what transpired. My apologies as well. I never meant to offend anyone but offer support. Thank you.
Marco September 19, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Wonderful article. thank you
Nancy Wride (Editor) September 20, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Thank you for the insight and sharing of your personal story, Carolyn.
J Smith September 21, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Those 911 tapes will NEVER be released because the cops NEVER ever admit when they are in the wrong. Plain & simple. How very sad that this family was put through all of this by the very people who are PAID to PROTECT & SERVE them. If you ask me, the police need to have a great deal of the power they have been given by society taken away because they only seem to use it in ways that a) benefit themselves, b) take in large sums of money for the corrupt government they work for, and/or c) satisfy the egos & power trips of former "high school bullies with 2.0 grade point averages". If a person cannot wrap their mind around the fact that they need to adjust their response to a situation based on the individual circumstances, then they sure as hell should not be given a badge & a weapon. They would be much better suited for careers in "Waste Management" industry.
John B. Greet September 21, 2012 at 09:19 PM
"If a person cannot wrap their mind around the fact that they need to adjust their response to a situation based on the individual circumstances, then they sure as hell should not be given a badge & a weapon." I think that if a person cannot wrap their mind around the fact that they cannot fully understand or appreciate what happened with David Jordan -or how or why- unless they were actually there or until all of the evidence has been discovered and independently analyzed, they sure as hell have no legitimate basis upon which to be judging those who *were* there and doing the best they could in a very bad set of circumstances.
Caroline Wilson December 06, 2012 at 07:06 AM
The Autism Society of Los Angeles have been training LAPD officers for 5 years. Carolyn Gammicchia helped us get our training off the ground. All total we have trained over 3000 officer including SWAT teams 991 operators and community police. This situation is tragic and may have been avoided if the family knew to report to the 991 operator that this call was about a person with autism. The officers need to be trained on how to respond when the family does give out information and react using this knowledge. The Autism Society of Los Angeles has been very successful in training LAPD officers in a very collaborative model. If you would like information about our training you can e mail me at execdirector@autismla.org.

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