SUICIDE BY COP: CELL PHONE REVEALS PEYTON HAM PLACED CALLS TO 911 THAT LED TROOPER TO HIS TRAP
TROOPER INVOLVED IN FATAL SHOOTING ON APRIL 13, 2021 IN LEONARDTOWN, MD IDENTIFIED
Maryland State Police Homicide Unit investigators are continuing an investigation into a trooper-involved shooting that occurred in Leonardtown on April 13, 2021. The involved trooper is identified as Trooper Joseph Azzari, who is assigned to the Leonardtown Barrack as a road patrol trooper. He has been a Maryland state trooper for two years and seven months.
Trooper Azzari remains on administrative leave pending the results of the ongoing investigation.
This is the procedure in trooper-involved shootings. The Maryland State Police Internal Affairs
The division is conducting an administrative investigation. This is also a standard procedure.
Upon completion of the criminal investigation, it will be presented to the St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney’s Office for review.
LEONARDTOWN, MD. – The police investigation of the cell phone number used to make two 911 calls to the St. Mary’s Emergency Control Center has revealed the phone was used by Peyton Alexander Ham in a tragic case of suicide by cop.
An examination of the phone, according to sources close to the investigation, reveals information that drug use, depression, and a desire to commit suicide led up to the calls that brought a Maryland trooper to the house next door to where he lives and the fatal shooting on Hollywood Road in Leonardtown, Maryland, on April 13, 2021.
The scenario of the shooting, which left bullet holes in the house across the street from where the shooting took place occurred in this way, THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY has learned: the Maryland trooper, who is still not yet identified, got out of his vehicle and didn’t see anyone around. The trooper began to walk around the property and suddenly Peyton Ham came out from a concealed place and took a shooting stance and aimed his replica gun at the trooper. The trooper immediately fired. Ham then pulled a knife on the trooper and the trooper fired again, with the result of the gunfire leaving one bullet wound in the groin and two in the chest of Ham.
Maryland State Police Media Relations Commander Greg Shipley has been contacted to confirm the information reported to have been gleaned from Ham’s cell phone is correct.
In an email, Shipley responded: “The Maryland State Police investigation is continuing. I cannot confirm your allegation.”
A message requesting a statement on this development for attorney Chris Longmore, who said he is the family spokesman of Peyton Ham, has not been returned, as his receptionist stated he is working remotely.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 1-800-273-8255.
Suicide by cop’ becomes more challenging as suicide rates rise
FROM BEHIND THE BADGE:
One of the big public health crises of recent years has been the increase in rates of suicide over the last few decades in the United States. According to the National Center of Health Statistics there has been a 33 percent increase in the rate of suicide from 1997 to 2017.
The increase in suicide has created unique challenges for law enforcement and their response to these incidents, in particular the police response to incidents where victims precipitate a response in order to get the police to kill them — referred to as “suicide by cop.”
California Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) defines “suicide by cop” (SBC) as when a person ‘‘engages in behavior which poses an apparent risk of serious injury or death, with the intent to precipitate the use of deadly force by law enforcement personnel towards that individual.”
According to a report by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), “each year from 2015 to 2018 there were approximately 900 to 1,000 fatal officer-involved shootings in the United States. By various estimates, approximately 10 to 29 percent or more of officer-involved shootings involve Suicide by Cop incidents.”
According to PERF, an SBC event has certain defining characteristics: A subject threatens the life of the officer or another person, or attempts to make the officer believe he poses such a threat, in order to give the officer no choice but to use lethal force to stop the threat.
In other words, the person cannot bring themselves to take their own life, so they create a scenario in which police are compelled to use deadly force. Across the country officers are being trained in de-escalation in order to disrupt the attempts of those seeking a fatal encounter with police.
Despite additional training these encounters can oftentimes be spontaneous and dynamic events that do not always allow for a graduated response.
One such case was in June 2019. A Fullerton police officer was on his way to the vet with his K9 when a vehicle appeared to intentionally speed by him. When the officer attempted to stop the vehicle, it made contact with his unit and ended up facing toward him the wrong way on the freeway. Getting out of his police unit the officer attempted to engage the female driver. In body camera footage that was later released you can see the female driver in a shooting stance with a firearm pointed at the officer. The officer responded with lethal force and, despite heroic attempts at rendering aid, the driver later passed away. MORE