Officers get recent parolee down from ledge of state parole office in Wichita

12/10/2013 3:03 PM

08/06/2014 9:10 AM

A nearly two-hour standoff with a recent parolee who perched outside a second-floor window at a state parole office in downtown Wichita ended Friday afternoon when the man fell to the sidewalk after a brief struggle with officers.

A canopy broke the man’s fall, and he didn’t appear to be seriously injured; he was taken to a hospital for evaluation, said Wichita police Lt. E.J. Bastian.

The Kansas Department of Corrections confirmed later Friday that the man who fell is Jose L. DeLeon, 39, whose parole ended Nov. 15 when his sentence expired. He was booked into Sedgwick County Jail on an allegation of criminal damage to property and was being held on a $2,500 bond.

DeLeon has convictions in Sedgwick County for criminal possession of a firearm, arson, misdemeanor battery, violation of a protective order and drug possession, state records show. He has been in and out of prison since 1998.

Bastian said it unfolded this way:

About 1 p.m., officers responded to a report of a disturbance at the parole office at 212 S. Market. The call was broadcast as an “officer in trouble.” According to a second report, a man broke out a window, and arriving officers found him on a second-story ledge.

DeLeon came to the parole office to get help with substance addiction and wanted to go to Comcare, the community mental health agency. He appeared to be “high” and “just went off,” Bastian said.

After jumping over a counter, DeLeon grabbed a coat stand and broke out a window to get to the ledge. He apparently cut his hand while crawling out.

For a time, he perched on the ledge in the frigid weather, then eventually got onto a ladder that was raised up for him. A firefighter held onto the ladder from below.

Two of the DeLeon’s relatives came to the scene, and negotiators brought them closer so he could see them. The negotiators developed a rapport with DeLeon, Bastian said.

Still, Bastian said, “He just didn’t want to come down.”

Eventually, one officer went up the ladder toward DeLeon, who had remained near the top of the ladder, at the second-story ledge.

At the same time, an officer and Undersheriff Danny Bardezbain tried to reach or grab DeLeon from behind in hopes of pulling him in through the window as he retreated, Bastian said.

But as the officers grabbed DeLeon from behind, his hooded sweatshirt came off, and his T-shirt was torn off as he yelled and struggled and then fell from the canopy and then to the sidewalk.

Right after he fell, he got up on his own, Bastian said.

Bardezbain, the undersheriff, was one of the first officers arriving at the scene. Bardezbain said he was on his way back to the office from lunch when the emergency call came out.

When he got to the parole office, he found staff members who appeared scared, upset. He came face to face with DeLeon after he had jumped over the counter, and as he moved toward him, DeLeon went to the ledge, Bardezbain said.

Bardezbain, who said he had training and experience in negotiating, began talking to DeLeon. For a time, Bardezbain said, he was worried about how it would end.

“That’s what he kept saying, that he wanted to jump.” DeLeon said “people weren’t helping him, they weren’t giving him what he wanted,” Bardezbain said.

DeLeon came to the parole office Friday asking for assistance, apparently because he had recently been on parole, said Jeremy Barclay, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Corrections.

The office did offer to connect him with social services in the community, “and at that point,” the situation escalated, Barclay said.

No staff members were injured, and the office was evacuated, he said. The office, where all Wichita parolees report, is one of the largest in the state.

After the emergency was broadcast to law enforcement, two Wichita police officers, one in an unmarked car and the other in a marked unit, collided just around the corner from the parole office as they were reacting to the call, Bastian said. They didn’t appear to be seriously injured, more embarrassed than anything, he said.

Contributing: Rick Plumlee and Joshua Wood of The Eagle

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