Online Exclusive

Man Douses Tenn. Officer With Paint Thinner


A suicidal man called police for help, but when they showed up at his home, he turned on them. With a lighter in hand, the man threw paint thinner on one of the officers, threatening his life.

Police said it was Richard Powers who called the crisis response line saying he had taken several medications trying to take his life and it didn't work, and he was going to attempt to do it again. When they arrived, he wouldn't let them in; his door was barricaded.

Neighbors said Powers was ready to give up on life. They were there when Murfreesboro police arrived to try to stop him.

"He said he's just tired of living," said neighbor Eugene Franklin.

Police finally made contact with Powers through a window he left open. According to police, Powers told officers not to come in or they would be sorry. That's when police Sgt. Tim Higgins climbed through the window and was met by Powers, who had an unusual choice of weapon.

"He actually took a mason jar, which was filled with lighter fluid or possibly some type of paint thinner, and had an open flame next to it," said Officer Kyle Evans of the Murfreesboro Police Department.

Higgins went for his gun and tried to grab Powers, but Powers ended up dousing the officer.

"The paint thinner actually got in the supervisor's eyes," said Evans.

Several other officers rushed in and put Powers in handcuffs.

"He really needs some help, because if he doesn't get any help, he's going to hurt somebody or himself," Franklin said.

Murfreesboro police recently trained officers who will be part of a critical incident response team, or CIRT Unit, to deal with situations like this one so street officers don't have to put themselves in harm's way.

"They are specially trained on how to respond and de-escalate the situation," said Evans.

Higgins was rushed to a hospital to be treated for the paint thinner that was doused in his eyes. He is expected to recover.

Powers was taken to a hospital, where he remains, for a mental evaluation.

Once he is released, police expect to file aggravated assault and reckless endangerment charges against him.

Copyright 2011 by All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.Got a story idea?