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[whitespace] Deputies subdue crazed subject with nonlethal force SAGE rifle used in lieu of guns

Cupertino--What began as a domestic disturbance in Cupertino last week ended with Santa Clara County Sheriff's Deputies using nonlethal force to subdue an armed subject.

Last Thursday at 6:35 p.m., sheriff's deputies responded to a family disturbance on the 22000 block of Cloverly Court in Cupertino. Sgt. John Hirokawa, spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, said deputies found two men attempting to subdue David T. Malcolm, 36, of Cupertino, who held a large kitchen knife in his hand. Malcolm had used the knife to cut his left wrist to the bone.

Hirokawa said officers attempted to talk the man down, but he fled back into the house. The rear of the house is adjacent to the Stevens Creek Elementary School, and a local soccer league was in session at the time. There were many children present on the playing fields, and Hirokawa said the officers were concerned that the suspect might charge towards the school area.

Deputies moved to the rear of the house and attempted to talk the suspect down once he emerged from inside. The suspect refused to comply with the deputies' demands, and began to threaten them. At this point, deputies used pepper spray on the suspect, but the spray seemed to have no effect. Sgt. Robert Linderman then retrieved the Less Lethal SAGE rifle and fired on the suspect three times. Hirokawa said this also seemed to have little effect on the suspect, so Linderman fired three more rounds at the suspect.

According to Hirokawa, the SAGE rifle fires a rubber baton in order to deliver a "less lethal" force to subdue a suspect.

"When it hits you, it has the force like a heavyweight boxer has just hit you in the chest," Hirokawa said. "We call it less lethal because technically if you get hit in the head or eye, it can be lethal." However, the main intention of using the SAGE rifle is to avoid using any kind of deadly force in apprehending a suspect.

Malcolm was taken to Santa Clara Valley County Medical Center to receive treatment for his laceration. While in transit, he continued to struggle, at one point breaking free of his restraints and forcing the ambulance drivers to pull over to the side of the 280 freeway, Hirokawa said.

Deputies moved in and were able to restrain him for the rest of the trip. He was treated and released from VMC, then booked into Santa Clara County Jail for violation of a restraining order, a probation violation, and for being under the influence of stimulants.

"We believe [the stimulant] was cocaine, but that still has to be determined by the lab," Hirokawa said.

This incident was the second time in less than a month that deputies have used the SAGE rifle in a potentially deadly situation. The first occurred in the city of Saratoga after a man had locked himself in his room with a meat cleaver.

When it became apparent to officers that the man intended to harm himself, they kicked down the door to the room and attempted to stop him. He attacked the officers with the cleaver, but a SAGE rifle was employed to disarm the man and knock him down so officers could place him in custody. The man was placed under psychiatric observation and no criminal charges were filed against him.

Hirokawa points out that in both cases the officers could have used lethal force after being attacked by the suspects. With the SAGE rifle, deputies were able to contain the situations without resorting to the use of firearms.
Kevin Fayle

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