SPOKANE, Wash. --- After a tense standoff along North Division Street on Tuesday, friends of the veteran arrested hope that it will bring him much-needed help.
When the standoff along North Division Street happened on Tuesday, many people took to Facebook to accuse the suspect of being a career criminal, but that is not the case.
James Wheatley, 38, never faced charges before. In fact, Wheatley spent more than eight years in the Air Force, crossing the globe in the effort to keep our country safe.
“Out of everyone I know that’s been in the military, I don’t know anyone who’s been as proud of that,” Wheatley’s best friend Michael Olson said.
The portrayal of Airman James Wheatley is a huge contact to the shirtless and belligerent Wheatley that put up a tense standoff with Spokane Police.
“Makes you wonder if he was trying to commit suicide by cop,” Olson said.
James Wheatley will be in court tomorrow morning. His friends tell me they believe he hoped to commit suicide by being shot by police pic.twitter.com/D0Ikpd3CFR— Ryan Simms (@KREMRyan) April 20, 2017
Olson said that James struggled with severe physical and mental problems. Olson said that Wheatley suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and has pain throughout his body, something believed to worsen Wheatley’s mental state.
Friends say Wheatley gets medical treatment from Spokane’s Veterans Affairs but friends think that the treatment has done little good.
“They’ll throw medications at him to try to dull the issue, but not get to the root of the issue,” Olson said.
Friends say James has been in worsening mental health since father's death last yr. They say he's been trying to get psych eval, but no luck pic.twitter.com/oKSdK9wqQb— Ryan Simms (@KREMRyan) April 20, 2017
Olson believes the root of the issue is mental illness- something that he said Wheatley has acknowledged himself.
“He’s sought after this help… he’s asked for it… been seeking it… and he’s not getting it,” Olson said.
Wheatley is currently facing several serious charges, including eluding police and assault.
Friends insist this standoff should not have happened in the first place.
“I hope he gets treatment. If you serve this country you deserve the same healthcare as a politician,” Olson said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to try to help Wheatley.
Wheatley will be back in court on Thursday morning.