Suicidal Teen Successfully Sues Cops Who Saved His Life, Gets $1.7m

A civil rights attorney won $1.7 million for his teen client.

Santa Clara, CA – A jury awarded $1.7 million to a teen who held a knife to his throat and was subdued by the police, KTVU reported.

A jury found Santa Clara Police Officer Mike Horn liable for the July 8, 2012, incident involving Austin Calhoun, the Mercury News reported.

Calhoun’s attorney, John Burris, said Calhoun was hit in the head by two rounds of "rubber bullets," required brain surgery, and now has a skull deformity.

The City of Santa Clara stood behind Officer Horn, and said he handled “a very dangerous situation per accepted police practices,” the Mercury News reported.

According to KGO, Calhoun was 16 years old when he wandered into a fire station while intoxicated and called 911.

Officers responded to the fire hall where they “found a young man out in public, holding a knife to his throat,” Santa Clara Police Captain Phil Cooke said.

Capt. Cooke said a negotiator was called to the scene, but that Calhoun forced officers to act when he advanced towards them.

Officer Horn fired two rubber projectiles, hitting Calhoun twice in the head. Another officer released a K-9 unit to help subdue the teen.

The projectile impacts caused Calhoun’s brain to swell, and led to emergency surgery to remove a portion of his skull, KGO reported.

"We think they showed great restraint and utilizing the devices they had rather than resorting to deadly force,” Capt. Cooke said.

Burris argued that Calhoun is a victim of “unreasonable force,” the Mercury News reported.

"When a person is suicidal, they have an obligation to de-escalate and not engage and accommodate the person by killing them," Burris said. "Just because they're suicidal doesn't mean you should do it. You're supposed to save lives, not take lives."

But the officers didn't kill him, they saved his life - fact that seems lost on the jury.

According to KTVU, Burris said he actually asked the jury to award Calhoun $10 million for physical and emotional injuries, and $2 million for punitive damages, but indicated he and his client were satisfied with the $1.7 million the jury deemed appropriate.

“Sadly, it seems that money is the only way to force the police to stop unnecessarily killing and injuring citizens who are suffering from mental health issues,” Burris told the Mercury News. “The conduct of the officers was outrageous, and Mr. Calhoun was fortunate to survive.”

Burris is a well-known civil rights attorney who represented Rodney King, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, and Tupac Shakur.

Officials from the city of Santa Clara did not immediately respond to a request for a comment, KTVU reported.

The City of Santa Clara is responsible for paying $1.7 million to Calhoun.

No. 1-25

If they let him slit his threat, the city would've been sued for not stopping him. Since they did stop him from sliting his threat, they get sued. This insanity needs to stop. According to every law book I have ever read.... it's a felony to kill yourself, I would, if I were this city, arrest him for attempted murder on his self.... makes sense to me. Charge him fines up the wazzu, lets say.... 1.7 million? And lock him up, either jail or preferably a mental institution where he belongs.


But they shot him in the head which violates the training required to use less-than-lethal. Rubber bullets to the head has been known to be sometimes lethal or cause severe injury.


This is a tough one....When a person wants to kill themselves alot already is going through their mind, and if he was really about to do it then well sorry but that is his choice, The officer, poor guy, now has this intentionally good action but cards dealt not in his favor because not only is that someone who wanted to leave this world already without being somewhat limited now has more of a limitations and his value of life is by far way more worst than what he started, so the lawsuit is rightfully awarded because value of life is now in a decrease because the person was not intended to harm anyone but himself and the officer made that choice of action which harmed him greatly, and really think about it, if you was to kill your life already now gotta be put on suicidal watch and now with huge limitations you would really really hate that cop cuz truly a part of that person really did die inside afterwards, but the boy should humble himself and not let that cop have any repercussions whatsoever because he now because of his PUBLIC act put this cop's life a 360 turn around all because of good intentions, so if the boy would just go back to the golden rule and do onto others as u would like them to do onto u" and laws of balance then he would be humble and see that this cop now has way more to lose because this boy now jeopardized not only the cop but his family as well and source of living


Poor cops can't win. If they let him kill himself they would have been accused of not doing enough........... He and/or his family will party and loose it all within a few months.


I bet this suicidal punk that could not get a family member to pay attention now have all of them coming out of the woodwork to take care of his money, i mean him.