A man pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning to a single felony alleging he pulled a knife on a Casper police officer and threatened to kill him.

Jose L. Alvarez entered two pleas — not guilty and not guilty by mental illness — in Natrona County District Court to the single count of aggravated assault he faces.

After Alvarez pleaded, Assistant District Attorney Mike Schafer said he would not be opposed to the Wyoming State Hospital evaluating Alvarez, who is free on bond, on an outpatient basis. Schafer said Alvarez had tried to get responding police officers to shoot him in an attempt to end his own life.

“Basically he was trying to attempt a suicide-by-cop type situation,” Schafer said.

Court documents state that on March 9, a woman called police and told them Alvarez said he would attempt suicide. She said Alvarez has been diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses. When police arrived at a trailer on East Yellowstone Highway, she was standing outside. She told them Alvarez would likely be combative and was holding a knife, according to the court documents. Two children were still inside the trailer.

On a police officer’s instruction, the woman opened the door and asked the children to come outside, the documents state. The officer, who was standing near the trailer entrance, saw Alvarez walking toward the door holding a knife, the documents state. When the police officer told him to drop the knife, Alvarez began shouting that he was going to kill the cop, according to the documents.

When Alvarez pointed the knife at the cop, he pushed Alvarez to the ground and drew his gun, according to the documents. Alvarez got up and shouted at the cop again, telling him to shoot him, the documents state. The officer pushed Alvarez again, which knocked him to the ground and the knife from his hand, according to the documents.

After police handcuffed Alvarez, the woman who called police said Alvarez had attempted to shoot himself before police arrived but the pistol did not fire.

Casper police shot and killed three men last year. Then-Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen ruled all three shootings justified and ruled that in two of the shootings, the men had intended for police to shoot and kill them. The family of one of the dead men — Douglas Oneyear, whom police shot and killed in February 2018 — sued the city of Casper, Casper Police Department, officers who shot at Oneyear and Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy earlier this year alleging the defendants violated Oneyear’s constitutional rights. The family’s lawyer later modified the lawsuit to drop the academy from the suit and instead brought the same allegations against unnamed academy employees.

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Crime and Courts Reporter

Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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