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TPD fatally shoot 27-year-old man during altercation on East Side

TPD fatally shoot 27-year-old man during altercation on East Side

  • Paul Ingram/

A Tucson Police Department officer shot and killed a 27-year-old man during an altercation on Tucson's East Side last week, authorities said.

On Monday, the Pima Regional Critical Incident Team announced that Eric Putnam was fatally shot after he aimed a gun first at himself, and then at TPD officers. Steven Clark, a lead officer and a five-year veteran of TPD, fired his sidearm and killed Putnam.

The incident began just after 5 a.m., when an unidentified caller reported that a man was experiencing "auditory hallucinations" and had access to a firearm.

Tucson police officers from the department's Operations Division East responded to an apartment complex near the 8600 block of East Old Spanish Trail and spoke to the person who placed the call. The person, who was not identified, told officers that Putnam was "acting erratically" and could be "an immediate threat to himself or others."

TPD officers called Putnam on the phone, and offered to help him with mental health services. However, Putnam became "increasingly agitated" and hung-up, officials said.

The police officers then went to the apartment to contact Putnam in person. As they arrived, the officers heard "yelling" from the apartment's gated patio, and they approached Putnam. As they moved toward the apartment, they issued "several commands" to see Putnam's hands.

Officials said that Putnam pointed a gun at himself, then at the officers. Clark shot Putnam and killed him.

Officials did not say how many times Clark fired, or how many times Putnam was shot.

Police officers began treating Putnam for his wounds, but he died at the scene.

Officials said that Putnam's next-of-kin were told about his death. 

At the beginning of March, officials announced the newly-formed Pima County Regional Critical Incident Team, or PRCIT. The team includes around 60 investigators from nine police departments in the county, including PCSD, Tucson Police Department, Oro Valley Police Department, Marana Police Department, Pasqua Yaqui Police Department, Sahuarita Police Department, South Tucson Police Department, the University of Arizona Police Department and the Pima Community College Police Department.

PRCIT has been tasked to investigate major incidents, including shootings, untimely deaths, and anything "that requires law enforcement to be a little bit more transparent with our community," Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos said. Officials said that the new organization will add "transparency" to the process of investigations, and will ask officials from a separate agency to investigate incidents.

As part of the PRCIT, the Pima County Sheriff's Department will review this latest incident, officials said. Meanwhile, TPD said its own Office of Professional Standards will  conduct a "separate, but parallel, administrative investigation to examine" their officer's actions. 

TPD has been tasked with investigating an incident that occurred on March 12, when a Pima County Sheriff's Deputy shot and killed a 17-year-old Sudanese boy after he attacked a fellow deputy, stabbing him repeatedly with a pair of culinary scissors.

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