Police subdue armed man with taser

by Town Reminder

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@yahoo.com

SOUTH HADLEY – Police officers were forced to use a taser in order to subdue a 66-year-old South Hadley man wielding a knife at them Friday evening.
James B. Knightly, 66, of 107 Alvord Place, South Hadley, was arrested last Friday, Feb. 24, and charged with three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and five counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Police were initially called to the area of Alvord Place for the report of an accident at 5:13 p.m. that evening. A 57-year-old South Hadley woman was traveling northbound on Alvord Street and attempted to make a left-hand turn into a driveway. Traffic behind her vehicle slowed as she executed the turn, said South Hadley Police Lt. Steven Parentela.
Knightly was operating the third vehicle in line behind the woman turning. He crossed over the double solid line into the southbound lane of travel, passed the cars waiting in line and struck the vehicle operated by the 57-year-old South Hadley woman, pushing her vehicle back into the lane from which she was turning.
With front end damage and a blown-out front tire, Knightly drove into Alvord Place. Witnesses on scene provided a description of him and his vehicle to police, as well as the direction in which he traveled.
Police canvased Alvord Place, said Parentela, and located the residence in which they believed Knightly was located. They checked the residence from the outside and found no signs of movement within the home. Eventually, they saw movement and Knightly dressed in a disguise.
Police knocked on the door to the residence in an attempt to make contact with him. While entering the home, Knightly brandished a knife and attempted to stab one of the responding police officers. Police officers used a taser to subdue the individual. Following a struggle during which five police officers were kicked, sustained cuts to their hands and injured a thumb, Knightly was subdued.
He was transported to Holyoke Medical Center for his injuries and later brought to the South Hadley Police Station where he was charged. Additional charges are pending for the motor vehicle offenses. Knightly was later transported to Hampshire County Regional Lockup.
South Hadley Police Chief David LaBrie credits the department’s ability to use tasers for the outcome of this incident. “In the past, police had a baton and mace. The next step up was a firearm,” he said. “Fortunately, officers had another option in this situation. Because of the taser, they were able to subdue the individual without having to use fatal force, which certainly would have been an option in this situation with an individual coming at them with a knife. Six months ago, officers wouldn’t have had that option.”
This is the first time the South Hadley Police Department has been forced to use a taser during an incident. The department implemented the use of tasers last year after receiving a donation of funds to purchase them. The South Hadley Police Department underwent training before adding the tasers to their tools.
“This is exactly the type of situation where the taser not only prevented injury but saved lives,” said LaBrie.
Knightly was arraigned Monday in Eastern Hampshire District Court.