Jacob Dean Patterson wanted to commit “suicide by cop” on Thanksgiving Day 2017. So he pointed a gun at Rock Hill police officers who shot him, prosecutors said Monday in court.
Patterson was sentenced to 10 years probation and intensive mental health treatment after pleading guilty to pointing his handgun at the police during the standoff.
Patterson, 31, was on alcohol and drugs the day of the incident and had become enraged when his truck, with his guns in it, was towed from a church near his Hutchinson Street home, court testimony showed.
Patterson, who has since recovered from the wounds, apologized Monday in court, saying the five Rock Hill police officers he pointed his gun at were “justified in their actions” when they “took deadly force against me... I would have shot me too.”
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One of the officers, Rock Hill Police Department Sgt. John Aiton, refused to shoot Patterson.
“Twice officer Aiton had the opportunity to justifiably kill me, and he didn’t take it,” Patterson said. “I’m not sure why, but I am thankful that he didn’t.”
Aiton, a police officer for three decades, was the only officer in court who had been involved in the incident. He did not speak during proceedings and after court declined comment.
Aiton was the first officer on the scene and attempted to negotiate Patterson’s surrender. Patterson refused.
Wearing body armor at the time and waving a .40-caliber pistol, Patterson was shot four times in the legs.
SWAT officers rushed the house following hours of negotiations. Patterson pointed the gun at the SWAT officers as they entered. He was shot by Lt. Carlos Culbreath and officer Michael Rowe.
“All those officers had to spend their Thanksgiving dealing with me rather than being with their families,” Patterson said in court.
Both officers who fired were cleared of any wrongdoing earlier this month by 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett. Brackett said a State Law Enforcement Division investigation showed Patterson tried to provoke police into shooting. He pointed his gun at officers who were trying to arrest him.
Sixteenth Circuit Assistant Solicitor Blaine Pleming, who prosecuted Patterson, said in court all five officers agreed to the negotiated plea that allows Patterson to avoid prison and receive mental health treatment, and probation that includes counseling and no access to guns.
“Mr. Patterson’s intention was to commit suicide by cop,” Pleming said in court.
Patterson and his lawyer, 16th Circuit Chief Public Defender Harry Dest, praised the officers who showed restraint and patience.
“Without Sgt. John Aiton’s patience this could have been much worse,” Dest said.
Patterson had no previous criminal record, and his family had sought to have him taken into mental health custody on Thanksgiving because of depression.
The conditions of Patterson’s 10-years probation require that mental health treatment start immediately and that he adhere to substance abuse restrictions. The conditions also allow probation agents to seek commitment of Patterson to a mental health facility if his condition deteriorates or he becomes a threat to others or himself, court testimony showed.