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Police able to defuse tense mental episode
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What could have ended in tragedy resulted in the suspect getting the help that they need after a scary exchange in Ripon last week.

According to the Ripon Police Department, dispatch received a call on Thursday, June 16, about an armed robbery at Angle Petroleum – located at 341 N. Main Street near the on and off-ramps for Highway 99 at Main Street. When officers arrived they were able to secure a perimeter around the facility.

Initial reports identified a theft and physical assault between the suspect, employees of the store, and a vendor who was still inside when officers arrived. The employees and vendor were able to secure themselves away from the suspect while officer attempted to communicate with the individual.

While attempts at speaking with the suspect were unsuccessful, officers were able to learn that the person was having mental health emergency and were able to work with that information towards communicating with the suspect. Just before 5:30 p.m. the person was taken into protective custody without incident,

The store employees and vendor ended up having no serious injuries as a result of the incident.

The suspect was transported to an area mental health facility for evaluation.

Incidents involving mentally ill suspects and the police that end much differently than the one in Ripon last week have dominated headlines in recent years – especially when officers end up using their service weapons.

A police officer from Danville was sentenced to six years in prison earlier this year after he was convicted in October of assault with a firearm for shooting a mentally ill man who was attempting to flee. The same officer was involved in a shooting that resulted in the death of a young man armed with a knife two years later and was charged with the initial shooting the day after Derek Chauvin was convicted by a Minneapolis jury of killing George Floyd.

Just two months later, in December, a Stanislaus County deputy sheriff was found not guilty of manslaughter charges stemming from the 2017 shooting in Ripon of a woman who was suffering from a bipolar episode.

The incident began in Salida and continued on the freeway to Ripon where the woman, Evin Olsen Yadegar, was shot by Stanislaus deputy Justin Wall as she tried to drive away from officers. Stanislaus County had settled with Yadegar’s family for $7 million in 2019, but the City of Ripon chose not to participate in that settlement – while three Ripon officers were present to assist the Stanislaus deputy, none of the Ripon officers fired their service weapons. Eventually Ripon agreed to pay $125,000 without admitting any wrongdoing in the incident.

California began making specialized training in mental health issues mandatory for officers with a pair of Senate Bills that mandated the training in academies and required field training officers to have additional expertise.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.