A closer look at the tough call officers made at a deadly Midtown standoff

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A former police captain gives us a closer look at the tough call officers had to make Wednesday at a deadly standoff in Midtown.

The three officers said they had no choice but to use deadly force when 31-year-old James Greenwell fired at them.

"It's all done in an instant," said hostage negotiation expert C.T. Freeman.

That instant has rippling effects.

Police said Greenwell, who suffered from a mental illness, showed up to his parents house on Auburndale armed with a gun, and started fighting with them.

Investigators said Greenwell then fired at police, and three officers fired back and killed him.

"There are some situations that are not negotiable. They just aren't. Whenever someone starts shooting that limits your options," said Freeman.

Freeman is a former police captain, a criminology professor at the University of Memphis, and trains Memphis Police officers how to handle intense situations with mentally ill people.

"There's a way you have to do that. You can't be forceful," said Freeman.

He said MPD's training, called the Memphis Model, sets the bar nationwide. In fact, 2,700 agencies copied it.

Essentially, doctors and experts teach the officers how to talk with mentally ill people.

"The officers have to understand what options they have. What resources they have in the mental health community that's going to help them," said Freeman.

WREG is told officers with the training were at Wednesday's standoff, and tried to calm Greenwell down. Nothing worked.

Police said he was also drunk.

"Seconds later, I hear three more gunshots. Boom. Boom. Boom," said neighbor John Bagwell.

Greenwell's mother was carried away in a stretcher.

A man who was at the home Wednesday evening was too upset to talk to us too.

"It is going to be looked at by people for weeks, months and years," said Freeman. "It's going to have a big impact on the community."

The officers were relived of duty until the department justifies what they did.

MPD said if officers need it, they will provide counseling.

The officers' names have not been released.

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