Baltimore County police fatally shot a man Monday after responding to his Bowleys Quarters home for a report of an attempted suicide.
Police said the man, whose name has not been released, grabbed kitchen knives from a drawer and advanced on the officers after they had tried to subdue him with a Taser.
The man's girlfriend had called 911 about 9:48 a.m. after he had taken a large number of pills, police said. Both police and fire personnel were dispatched to the home in the 4000 block of Bay Drive.
It was the fifth fatal shooting by county police this year, compared to two last year.
It was the second time in the past three weeks in which county police have shot a person they said was suicidal. On Nov. 24, an officer shot a man in the wrist on the Wise Avenue drawbridge in Dundalk, after police said he swung a knife at them.
In the incident Monday, officers who responded to the scene encountered the woman who had called 911 at the front door and found the man inside, said Cpl. John Wachter, a police spokesman.
The officers "attempted to talk him into going to the hospital on his own," but he refused, Wachter said.
"He was refusing to go, so they were going to have to force him to go," Wachter said.
They tried to use at least one Taser to bring the man "under control," but that did not help, he said.
After the man took several knives from a kitchen drawer, the officers again deployed a Taser, but it "was ineffective," Wachter said. Three officers then opened fire.
Homicide detectives are investigating, which is standard procedure in police shootings. The names of the officers involved were not released. The department said they would be placed on administrative status.
Several neighbors in the waterfront community said they did not hear gunshots and that they did not know much about the man who was killed.
George Clavell, 72, said he saw paramedics approach the home before the shooting when he was leaving his home to take his wife to the doctor, but emergency vehicles didn't have their lights on, and he didn't think much of it.
"It didn't seem like it was an emergency call," said Clavell, a retired county firefighter.
A recent report by the Virginia-based nonprofit Treatment Advocacy Center found that people with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely than others to be killed during police encounters.
"This kind of scenario plays out all too often," said Ron Honberg, legal director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Crisis-intervention training can help teach officers to de-escalate the situation, he said.
"Police have become the frontline responders to people in crisis," he said.