A late June call to the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office could have ended in tragedy if not for the quick thinking and applied training of Deputy Paul Quick and Deputy Alexis Agnelly.
“Once the adrenaline rush subsided and we were confident that each person involved was safe and uninjured, it became clear that we had just had a hand in saving this man’s life, which is one of the most rewarding aspects of this job,” Agnelly said.
Her partner agreed.
“Having the ability to safely bring the subject into custody without any serious injuries to the subject or ourselves was extremely satisfying and a serious relief,” Quick said.
The incident started, St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Cpl. James Grimaldi said, when Quick and Agnelly were dispatched to St. Rose to answer a call for a disturbance. The call indicated there was a man acting erratically while walking on the levee.
Upon the deputies’ arrival, they noted the subject to be sweating heavily and speaking irrationally, according to the official police report. As the deputies got closer to the subject, he fled for the Mississippi River.
Quick and Agnelly began to chase the subject, all while issuing verbal commands for him to stop running, but the subject continued to enter the river while removing his clothes.
“Recognizing (the subject’s) mental health status as that approaching excited delirium, Quick and Agnelly tackled him in the shallow water of the river bank and were able to restrain him safely in handcuffs without injuring him or themselves,” the report stated.
Agnelly said the most important thing going through her head at the time was to not only ensure that the subject was safe and uninjured, but that she and her partner were safe.
“It was imperative that we communicated with each other on scene in order to get the subject into our custody safely,” she said.
Quick said he and Agnelly recognized the subject was a case of excited delirium and that the situation would only get worse if the subject was not apprehended.
“My partner and I acted as quickly as possible to detain the subject so we can calm the subject down and de-escalate the situation,” he said.
Grimaldi said excited delirium is a condition in which a person is in a psychotic state or is extremely agitated, which means the subject has an inability to process rational thought. Normal de-escalation procedures are rendered useless, and physically the organs within the subject are responding to an inciting factor – which could include a drug stimulant or the exacerbation of an underlying psychiatric condition.
“My training was an imperative factor in de-escalading the situation,” Quick said. “The excited delirium and de-escalation training classes ensured that my partner and I were able to bring the subject into custody without harming the subject or ourselves.”
While experiencing excited delirium, a subject will often act erratically enough that they become a danger to themselves and to the public. Once inside the police vehicle, the subject in St. Rose made statements indicating he was experiencing hallucinations and wanted to die in the river.
“Our training allowed us to recognize that the subject we were dealing with was not in his proper mindset, which meant our tactics needed to change in order to safely de-escalate the situation,” Agnelly said. “Once we had the subject safely in custody, we were able to utilize our de-escalation training in order to calm him down and ensure him that we were going to get him the help he needed.”
The subject was admitted to a local hospital.
“Deputy Quick and Deputy Agnelly’s timely recognition of the severity of the subject’s mental health status, their quick thinking and diligence to their duty likely prevented the subject from drowning in the river,” Cpl. Adam Coley said.