Tennessee Suicide Lawyers | Suicide by Cop | Governmental Tort Liability Act Attorneys
David Randolph Smith
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Suit filed in "Suicide by Cop" case

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Nashville, Tennessee. (11/1/10) - The Law Offices of David Randolph Smith & Associates today announced that a lawsuit has been filed in the Circuit Court of Williamson County, Tennessee under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act on behalf of the surviving parents of Demian Rivera, deceased, who died after an attempted "suicide by cop" attempt on October 25, 2009 when he hanged himself on November 1, 2009 at the Williamson County jail. The case alleges a failure to take adequate suicide precautions by the jail and Franklin police.

The Complaint, is available at: http://www.drslawfirm.com/Rivera/Complaint_Rivera.pdf

The Complaint alleges that:

  • On October 25, 2009 Demian Rivera attempted to commit "suicide by cop" when he pointed a BB gun at police officers in Franklin after a chase following Mr. Rivera's robbery of a Franklin Walgreens pharmacy. Mr. Rivera was taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center's trauma unit where he treated for his injuries. After regaining consciousness Mr. Rivera stated to Franklin police officers on numerous occasions (at Vanderbilt Hospital and at the Franklin police station) that he pulled the BB gun in a suicide attempt, that he wished he had died, that he wanted to die and hoped the police would have killed him. He also stated to police he had wanted to get away with the robbery or "go to heaven or hell" and that he "pulled the BB gun and pointed it at officers in order to get them to kill him." These and other suicidal statements that were communicated to police are attached as Exhibit A to the Complaint- Records from the Franklin Police Department.
  • After Mr. Rivera had been treated for gunshot wounds, he was taken from Vanderbilt University Medical Center to the Williamson County Jail on October 25, 2009. Upon arrival at the jail Franklin Detective Chad Pace stated that he advised the booking agent (Williamson County Deputy Sheriff Josh Byram) that "Suspect Rivera had attempted "Suicide by Cop" during his apprehension and had been wounded." Despite the communicated actual knowledge that Rivera had attempted suicide, the jail took no suicide precautions. The records from the Williamson County jail contain no reference to any risk or threat of suicide despite the fact that multiple records of the Franklin police reflect Mr. Rivera's prior suicide attempt and suicidal ideation.
  • On November 1, 2009 Demien Rivera hanged himself with the bedsheets tied together as a rope in his cell and was declared dead (brain dead) on November 4, 2009.
  • "Suicide by cop" is a well-recognized risk and reality. Whether called "suicide by cop", "police-inflicted suicide", "victim-precipitated homicide", or "law enforcement-forced/assisted suicide" the event occurs when a disturbed or distraught individual with a lethal or apparently lethal weapon induces law enforcement personnel to kill him. A large study in Los Angeles County found about 11 to 13 percent of police shootings fit the pattern of police-initiated suicide. Huston, H. Range, MD, Anglin, Diedre, MD, et al., "Suicide By Cop," ANNALS OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, December, 1998, Vol. 32, No. 6, American College of Emergency Physicians. Suicide-by-police has been studied since the 1980s and is recognized by treating physicians. There have been numerous peer-reviewed articles on suicide-by-police in medical journals and hundreds of articles in law enforcement journals, some of which have been peer-reviewed. In fact, law enforcement officers and medical professionals are trained in suicide-by-police so that they can recognize it and, if possible, prevent it from occurring.


Demian Rivera


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