Editor's note: This story talks about self-harm and suicide. If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, contact The National Suicide Prevention hotline at 800-273-8255.
SEATTLE -- Newly released records show why King County Sheriff’s deputies sought an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) against Richard Sherman in February, several months before the former Seahawks football star was arrested in a high-profile case.
An ERPO petition filed with King County Superior Court included text messages from Sherman to a family member showing he had been threatening self-harm with a handgun for the past year.
When the judge approved the ERPO on Feb. 3, deputies headed to a local gun store to pick up the Smith and Wesson firearm that Sherman had purchased days earlier. The gun was being held for the 10-day waiting period that is required for such a purchase following the passage of Initiative 1639, which went into effect in 2019. Those 10 days are commonly known as the "cooling off" period that allows time for a background check and to make sure the buyer isn't making a potentially dangerous impulse buy.
The ERPO, which was sealed by the court in February and details of which were kept secret until this week, bars Sherman from purchasing or possessing handguns for one year. Nineteen states have ERPOs. In Washington state, family members or law enforcement can request them if a person is a danger to themselves or others.
Sherman’s personal struggles became public when he was arrested July 14 by Redmond police. His wife called 911 and said that Sherman was “drunk and threatening to kill himself.” Hours later he allegedly crashed his vehicle in a construction zone on his way to his in-laws' Redmond home. Once there, he tried to smash in the front door and fought with arresting officers, according to charging documents.
Sherman pleaded not guilty to five misdemeanor charges following his arrest and is currently out of jail on his own recognizance.
The just-released ERPO petition, signed by King County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Hennessey, says "[Sherman’s] wife was exceedingly concerned for [Sherman’s] wellbeing."
Records show Sherman owned four 9mm handguns, in addition to the Smith and Wesson he was attempting to purchase earlier this year.
The ERPO petition says Sherman “…has never made threats to harm family members or other people and only talks about self-harm.”
In a tweet following his arrest last month, Sherman said that he is “deeply remorseful for my actions” and that “I vow to get the help I need.”
There is help available for people having thoughts of self-harm. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is 800-273-8255.