A Cathedral City man was still in critical but stable condition Thursday following a Monday night attempt at suicide by cop.
Friends and family of Chrisotpher Mendoza, 27, spoke to News Channel 3.
They want to set the record straight by saying that their friend, brother and son was just in a dark place and felt there was no way out.
Mendoza is still in the Intensive Care Unit at Desert Regional Medical Center and close friends expect his recovery could take months.
Friends said Mendoza is not a bad person — only that he had been dealt a bad hand and wanted the pain to stop.
“Any prayers that people want to offer — accepted gratefully,” said Joan Aufderbeck, a close family friend who said Mendoza has been suicidal in the past.
“His mother has called police a couple of times to make sure that he’s safe, you know, and had him taken in,” she said.
But, on Monday night, Mendoza’s family was completely caught off-guard and totally unaware that he had called police, identifying himself as a concerned family member, warning that a distraught relative was walking the streets with a gun.
“They ran down the street and found out that it was Christopher and we got in our cars, went to the hospital and from there its history,” she said.
Aufderbeck said Mendoza injured his back three years ago moving some equipment and has suffered unbearable pain since.
“He’s been dealing with the workman’s comp company for the past three years,” she said. “They haven’t gotten him into pay management or done anything on his behalf.”
Medication wasn’t numbing the pain, and Mendoza decided enough was enough.
Aufderbeck said he just couldn’t take his own life.
“We’re taught that suicide is a sin,” she said. “I think that he may have tried with pills and they didn’t work.”
Mendoza doesn’t own any weapons and wasn’t running around the neighborhood jumping over fences and in and out of back yards as has been reported since the shooting, according to friends.
“He was definitely not jumping fences in the condition that he’s in,” said Aufterbeck.
But when asked if he went house by house, knocking on doors, Aufterbeck replied, “I don’t know. He was desperate. He wanted the police to come. If he was knocking on a window or something it might have just been to get the people to call the police.”
When asked if she and the family had anything to say to the officer who shot Mendoza, Aufterbeck said, “That officer is in our prayers, because we do realize that that is not something that someone wants to be confronted with and then to shoot somebody and find out that they had a fake gun — that has to be a very difficult thing for them.”
Friends and family said Mendoza is a great guy and hope he will finally get the help he needs if he survives.