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1/26/16- Sharon Hill man faces assault charges for attacking police with a knife 

DATE:  Feb. 26, 2016
CONTACT PERSON: Emily H. Harris- 610.891.4163

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan and Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele announced that a Sharon Hill man is facing assault charges after he attacked police officers with a knife during their response to a disturbance call at his residence. The investigation was conducted by Montgomery County Detective Paul Bradbury along with other members of the Montgomery County Detective Bureau.

Saveon Garrison, 22, of Baker Avenue in Sharon Hill, is charged with four counts of aggravated assault, a felony of the first degree, possessing instruments of a crime, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. Garrison is currently in custody at the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 7:20 pm, Officers Stephen Mummo and Matthew MacNeal from the Sharon Hill Police Department responded to 69 Barker Avenue, on the report of a disoriented subject. While in route, Officer Mummo informed the county radio that he recently had contact with Saveon Garrison who lives at the residence and that Garrison suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and has a history of violent tendencies and is also known to carry a knife.

Upon arrival, officers were met at the front door by Garrison’s mother, Sonia Benzz, who told officers that her son called 911 but she did not know why. Saveon Garrison came to the front door and was angry that the police where at the residence. He began to yell and speak incoherently as the officers pleaded with him to let them in the house to help. As Garrison became more agitated, he slammed the door shut and could be heard continuing to yell at his mother. Shortly after the officers arrived, Delaware County Criminal Investigations Divisions Detective Michael Jay and Collingdale Police Officer Daniel Scanlan arrived at the residence to assist the officers. 

As the yelling escalated from inside the residence, Officers heard Sonia Benzz screaming for help and forced open the front door. Garrison ran away towards the kitchen. As the officers entered the living room area, Garrison came charging from the kitchen area. Officer Mummo observed that Garrison was holding a knife in his right hand as he continued charging toward the officers. 

Officer Mummo fired one cartridge from his Taser that hit Garrison in the chest area. However, Garrison was not affected and raised the knife above his head and swung it in the direction of Officer MacNeal. Officer MacNeal attempted to protect himself by lowering his head and using his arm to try and deflect the knife, however as Garrison swung the knife downward it stabbed MacNeal on the left side of his face causing blood to gush from his face. 

After slashing Officer MacNeal’s face, while still holding the knife in an aggressive manner, Garrison turned towards Delaware County Detective Jay who was standing just several feet away. Detective Jay discharged one shot from his service weapon striking Garrison in the right side of his chest. Garrison went to the ground where he continued to resist the officers’ attempts to restrain him. Detective Jay stated that he fired his service weapon because he was in fear for himself and the other persons in the residence were in serious physical danger.

On Tuesday, February 23, Montgomery County Detective Paul Bradbury interviewed Sonia Benzz. Sonia said that her son’s mental health issues intensified around three years ago and that he was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, however was not taking medication. According to Sonia, she filed a 302 involuntary commitment for a mental health evaluation on Saveon just days prior, but he was released hours later and came home. Sonia said that on Tuesday, February 23, she arrived home after stopping to pick up dinner. She placed the food container on the dining room table and went upstairs. When Sonia came back downstairs, an argument ensued because Saveon accused her of eating his food. Sonia ended up showing Saveon the receipt for the food because, “he was getting aggravated.”

According to Sonia, after sitting down to start eating her dinner, Saveon sat down next to her and asked “Who am I?” Saveon then called 911 and Sonia heard him telling the dispatcher that “there was a stranger in my home.”  Sonia stated that the officers tried to talk to Saveon and calm him down but he refused to let them in the house. Sonia was trying to tell Saveon that she was giving the officers permission to enter, but Saveon was “yelling and very aggressive towards the officers even though the officers were being calm just trying to get him to open the door.” Saveon was able to slam the door and “started walking aggressively towards me.”

After Saveon had slammed the door and was continuing to yell, Sonia said the officers kicked in the door because, “they had to be afraid for my safety” and that, “the kind soul officer knew the situation and probably was concerned it was going to get violent.” Sonia said that after Saveon was shot, “that really delicate soul police officer kneeled down and started to care for Saveon, he was talking to Saveon” and that she saw one of the knives from her kitchen on the ground after the officers moved the coffee table.

At the request of the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, the investigation was referred to the Montgomery County Detectives Bureau due to the involvement of Delaware County Criminal Investigation Detective Michael Jay in the incident.