Video courtesy Mary Ellen Smolinski
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Metro officers used what appeared to be nonlethal bullets Sunday morning to immobilize a suicidal man at Harry Reid International Airport.
Mary Ellen Smolinski, of suburban Chicago, was at the airport at around 9:30 a.m. when officers fired at the man behind a structure in the departures ramp in Terminal 1. She provided video of the shooting to 8 News Now.
According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, officers responded to the airport on reports of a man wanting to commit suicide with a knife in Terminal 1.
The man faces several counts of assault on a protected person with the use of a deadly weapon and resisting a public officer with a deadly weapon that is not a firearm, records showed Sunday night.
After making contact with the man, Metro said in an email officers used “less lethal options to take him into custody.”
Smolinski’s video shows Metro personnel gathering around the man as he was lying prone in the departures area. He was taken to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center with minor injuries, police said.
Metro’s email was not specific, but the rounds being fired in Smolinski’s video appear to be plastic bullets, also called plastic baton rounds. Special firearms are used for the nonlethal projectiles designed to immobilize. They can, however, kill when used incorrectly.
Metro declined a request for more details, including whether the rounds used were nonlethal bullets.
“We didn’t know what it was,” Smolinski said. “We just know they were shooting.”
Smolinski said as she and her party pulled into the departures area to catch a return flight to Chicago, officers stopped them.
“It looked like they were talking to someone behind a fence,” she said. “We didn’t feel unsafe, because they were pointing (their weapons) away from us … we couldn’t see what the other person was doing.”
She said she thought the person being shot at was armed or “or they wouldn’t have done what they did.”
The officers acted quickly, Smolinski said. “There wasn’t a lot of talking. All of a sudden, officers were standing there with their guns ready and you saw the video. There was shooting and ‘Oh, my gosh.'”
For anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide, call, text, or chat with a crisis counselor at 988. To learn more about the Office of Suicide Prevention, visit this link.