New York (CBS New York) – A man spent nearly three days in a tree in Queens Finally came down on Friday evening.
Rudy Thomas climbed the tree in an attempt to avoid police around 2 p.m. Wednesday.
He got out of the tree shortly after 5 p.m. on Friday and has since been taken into police custody.
CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reports that police were working around the clock to get him to get off with sirens, drones and negotiators, but nothing worked.
The officers eventually withdrew from the street, which was enough to get Thomas out of the tree to his rooftop.
Then a priest went to reassure him that the police would not be harmed and that they were looking after his mental health.
Thomas finally got off the roof. As CBS2’s Jennifer McLugan reports, Thomas shared his past with the police from his balcony after coming down and also sparked anti-gay sentiment.
His neighbors say he is mentally disturbed and needs help and support.
Thomas said he would agree to go to a local psychological center. Police will then determine whether he will be charged with harassing his mother and punching his girlfriend in September.
Watch Kevin Rincon’s report –
Police were called to Thomas’ house at 145th Avenue in brookville After his mother called, claiming he was threatening her.
“My name is Roddy Thomas…I currently have a lawsuit against the NYPD, DOC, Rikers Island,” Thomas said from the tree.
That lawsuit, filed in 2013, alleged that Thomas was assaulted by a captain and up to 10 other officers. The case was allowed to continue at the time, but there were problems locating Thomas, who friends say often climbs the tree and acts erratically.
While in the tree, Thomas flossed his teeth, carried blankets long distances and stuffed his ears with cotton to cut off the sound of sirens, loud music, and other attempts by the NYPD to encourage him to surrender.
There was a giant airbag under the tree.
“We’re trying to take care of him, making sure he’s safe like his neighbours,” an NYPD officer told neighbors.
“He is frustrated and afraid. We can only hope and pray that this ends peacefully,” said neighbor Claudia Godin.
Neighbors said he used to be in the tree.
“Before, there were about three or four days at a time. This is only the first time the police have actually been called,” said one of the men.
Some, watching from behind the yellow tape, questioned the tactics used.
“I think it’s a sensitive situation, and it needs people or staff who have experience with such things,” said one of the women.
Watch Jennifer McCluggan’s report –
“The NYPD should not be charged with the responsibility of dealing with a man who is clearly in distress and is standing in a tree,” said public defender Sabine French. “If a person is in distress, shouldn’t you try to calm them down? Use tactics that will build confidence.”
French was able to speak to Thomas, who said he wanted to speak to an officer who, like him, was of Haitian descent.
“Anyone who has any kind of knowledge about societies, about culture, about race, will understand that you have to be able to connect with the audience you’re with,” French said. “I want my law enforcement unit to represent my community.”
“If someone has some kind of mental illness, that’s not how you deal with it,” said Reba Berry, a New York state chaplain.
Neighbors complained that NYPD negotiators made mistakes in this sensitive case.
“It’s someone who is in crisis. This is a sign of trauma, and I don’t feel as though this situation is being treated as someone who is currently suffering from mental illness,” French said.
CBS2 asked mental health experts what could have been done instead of the tactics neighbors call “torture.”
“This can be very upsetting for them, and instead of bringing them down, it can cause someone to feel scared and upset and stay there for a longer period of time,” said psychologist Dr. Alexandra Stratner.
Neighbors said they believed the allegations of punching his girlfriend and harassing his mother did not warrant the interest of the NYPD.
However, former NYPD Lt. Dr. Darren Borcher says they showed patience and professionalism, reminding people why they were called in the first place.
“There was no immediate need to put him in custody, then let’s wait. Let’s take all the time in the world, and let’s let this individual tire himself out rather than risk hurting or injuring the individual, the officers, or a third party,” Borcher told CBN’s Gina De Angelis. S2.
The police avoided forcing Thomas to learn from the past. In 2008, officers used an electric stun on a mentally disturbed naked person, resulting in his death.
Mental health experts encourage law enforcement to seek their help in these situations.
“For this guy to feel safe, he feels that those trying to help him get off are acting in his best interests,” Stratener said.
CBS2’s Kevin Rincon and Jennifer McLugan contributed to this report.