Chelsea Manning, Friends Complain Cops Responded With Guns To Her Suicide Threat
Bethesda, MD – Police performed a welfare check on former Army analyst and U.S. Senate candidate Chelsea Manning on May 27, after she posted two suicide threats on social media.
Now she’s complaining that officers broke into her home in a threatening manner, and released copies of her home security videos of the incident as her proof, The Intercept reported.
“This is what a police state looks like,” Manning said. “Guns drawn during a ‘wellness’ check.”
Montgomery County police received “several calls” from concerned parties who had read Manning’s tweets, Montgomery County Police Captain Paul Starks told The Intercept.
In her first tweet, the 30-year-old transgender activist posted a picture of herself standing on the ledge of a building captioned with the words “im sorry.”
She followed that up with a more detailed tweet, The Washington Times reported.
“I’m sorry - I tried - I’m sorry I let you all down. I’m not really cut out for this world - I tried adapting to this world out here but I failed you - I couldn’t do this anymore … I tried and I’m sorry about my failure.”
The tweets were quickly deleted, but not before people became very worried about her well-being.
After receiving calls from some of Manning’s Twitter followers, officers looked up her address and went to check on her.
When nobody answered her door, they appeared to gain entry to her apartment using a key provided by building management or another source to make sure the former military prisoner was not in need of medical care.
Four officers entered her apartment with weapons drawn – three officers held their firearms and one had a Taser – to check if Manning was there and alright. In the video, they appeared to call out several times as they proceeded into the apartment.
“They responded to the address to check her welfare,” Capt. Starks said. “Once inside the residence they realized that the residence did not match the photo that was posted on Twitter. … We tried to determine where she may be by attempting to use her phone but the phone was powered off and they weren’t able to leave a message.”
Shortly thereafter, a friend tweeted on Manning’s behalf and let her followers know she was alright.
“Chelsea is safe. She is on the phone with friends, thanks everyone for your concern and please give her some space,” the message read, according to The Washington Times. A follow-up message that was posted two days later offered contact information for crisis hotlines.
There have been no posts to Manning’s usually very active Twitter account since May 29.
Police responded to Manning’s criticism of the wellness check conducted at her residence the night she threatened to kill herself.
“They don’t know what kind of circumstances they are entering when they enter a home,” Capt. Starks explained to The Intercept. “The fact that a weapon is drawn doesn’t mean that they are going to shoot it.”
A suicide threat implies imminent danger to the person making the threat, former Metro Transit Police SWAT Commander William Malone said.
Suicidal persons frequently try to kill responding law enforcement officers.
“In this case, the person making the threat has a history of military training, and a history of suicide attempts. And many people who kill themselves use guns to do it,” Malone pointed out.
“The officers were prepared with lethal and less-lethal weapons, and they appeared to be calling out to her as they entered the apartment,” he observed after watching the surveillance video posted by The Intercept.
“The police should be commended for their actions in this case, not criticized,” Malone said.
Instead of thanking the police officers for their efforts in tracking down Manning’s apartment, the very same people who called the police later complained about the officers’ response.
“There is absolutely no excuse for sending armed police to the home of someone who is having a suicidal episode,” Cassandra Fairbanks told The Intercept. “As we’ve seen countless times, cops know that no matter what happens, they will be shielded from any accountability whatsoever.”
“If Chelsea had been home when these cops arrived with guns drawn, she would be dead,” she said, according to The Intercept, in response to police trying to save Manning's life.