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Va. Man Says Police Siege |Led to Suicide Attempt

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - A disabled veteran claims in court that an entirely unwarranted siege at his home by law enforcement officers caused him to try to kill himself.

In a complaint filed in Richmond City Circuit Court, Ronald Elwin Wells Jr. says he was home alone with his dog and watching a baseball game on Sept. 16, 2013, when a police officer showed up at his door, saying he'd been asked to check on Wells by the "welfare department."

Wells says he told the officer he wasn't on welfare, and that in any event, he was fine.

The officer left, and Wells says he went back to watching the game, then promptly fell asleep.

Sometime around 7 p.m. that, the complaint says, Wells was awakened by state troopers who were knocking at his door.

"Wells started to be afraid because of all this attention he was getting for no apparent reason," the complaint says.

He did not answer his door, and he didn't answer it later when, he says "a number of State Troopers or other police type people came in fatigues with helmets and face shields with long guns in their hands."

Wells says in an attempt to remain calm, he went back to watching television. Two hours later, however, he heard someone calling him over a loudspeaker.

At this point, the complaint says, "Wells became really scared."

Wells says he retrieved a pistol he owned, "but only to defend himself."

Wells says he then looked out a window and saw "a big group" of state police and deputies on his property. He says ran to a backroom to get a pair of night vision glasses, then called his brother, who told him the road outside his home was blocked by armored vehicles, and that whatever was going on, he should immediately give himself up.

Wells says he ignored his brother's plea, fearing "that the police would riddle him with bullets."

He says shortly after he hung up the phone, he heard police trying to batter down his door. The next thing he knew, the complaint says, glass was shattering, and then heard the thud of tear gas canisters landing on the floor and the room was filling with vapor.

Wells says he had no idea why the police were after him, but frightened, he retreated to an upstairs bedroom.

"Wells was not a criminal but it seemed that he was under a brutal military type attack from the police and deputies," the complaint says. "He decided to end it right there and die by his own hand before he'd be taken in this insane situation."

After one failed attempt, Wells says he managed to shoot himself in the chest.

Police discovered the semi-conscious man hiding in his daughter's closet and transported him to a local hospital by helicopter for treatment, the complaint says.

Wells says as a result of the unwarranted siege and the medical bills that stemmed from it, he lost his home to foreclosure and has been forced to live in an assisted living facility.

"No warrants of any kind were issued against the plaintiff, yet great force was used to capture plaintiff's person, his home was laid siege to and much was destroyed with not a warrant or legal process, with the complete failure of the supervisory staff of the two agencies," the complaint says.

"Wells was exposed to the full terror and brunt of military style police power exercised against an individual who had done no wrong, without regard to the irresponsible and disproportionate use of that power in utter disregard for Wells rights, life, freedom and property," it continues.

Wells is seeking $3 million in damages.

He is represented by Lee Robert Arzt of Richmond, Va.

The Virginia State Police declined to comment due to the pending nature of the lawsuit.

The other defendants named in the suit Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Attorney General Mark Herring and the King William Sheriff's Department did not respond to emails from Courthouse News seeking comment.

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