Peter Kinnin was chronically depressed, dating back to deep-seated psychological problems from childhood.
Alcohol -- usually vodka -- was just a way for him to dull the real pain inside him.
Six or seven times in the last year, he had cut himself superficially -- but on the upper arms, not his wrists. Five months ago, he took an overdose of pills, then called 911.
But for all his problems, Peter Kinnin didn't really want to die on the night of Oct. 17, according to his fiancee, Laverne Fallon.
That night, Kinnin, 32, called Town of Tonawanda police and threatened to kill himself. When police entered the house he and Ms. Fallon shared, Kinnin had turned out the lights. After he lunged at officers with a knife, slashing one lieutenant three times, two officers fired their 9mm semiautomatic handguns, killing him with four shots.
Ms. Fallon, in an hourlong telephone interview, denied speculation that Kinnin forced police to do what he couldn't do himself -- take his own life.
"I don't believe he wanted them to kill him," she said. "I believe he possibly wanted to be harmed so they would take him to the hospital to get help again. But in my heart, I don't believe it was suicide."
Ms. Fallon realizes that Kinnin's depression may have deepened when they agreed he would move out temporarily.
"I can't feel guilty about that, because I was protecting myself and my children -- and Peter," she said in the interview, her first extensive public review of that night. Ms. Fallon still professes her love for Kinnin, a well-educated man haunted by depression.
"When he didn't get to the point of depression where he had to drink, he was a very kind man, who was good to my children and very good to me," she said.
"He deserved better," she added. "He deserved the help he needed. I don't think he deserved four bullets in the chest."
Town of Tonawanda police knew
Kinnin pretty well. They went to the house at least 10 times in the last 18 months, responding to his calls for help.
But on the night of Oct. 17, the situation and the outcome were different.
Five days earlier, Kinnin, who had returned to drinking in February after being sober for eight months, and Ms. Fallon had agreed that he needed to move out temporarily, for the sake of both of them and her two children, 15 and 12 years old.
Kinnin started drinking at about 5:30 p.m. He then reached out to his lifelines, three different mental-health counseling services and the police.
He talked to one mental-health agency, on and off, for about 2 1/2 hours.
" 'All they're doing is upsetting me,' " he told Ms. Fallon. " 'All they're doing is making things worse.' "
At about 7 p.m., he reached another agency.
"They told him to get something to eat, take a walk and call them back," she said.
Kinnin then called police, threatening to kill himself.
When they arrived, his fiancee met them outside. She let them into the house, which was completely dark. Turning the lights on as she went, she led the police into the living room, then the bedroom and the kitchen.
Suddenly, Kinnin emerged from the utility room, off the kitchen.
"I said, 'Peter, what are you doing?' "
"He came toward them with the knife, slowly," she said. "They had their guns on him, and it was a confrontation. . . . In the beginning, he was jabbing at them but not touching them."
Three times, according to Ms. Fallon, one of the three police officers yelled at Kinnin, "Put the knife down or we'll shoot you."
And then all she can remember are shots being fired into Kinnin's chest.
"After he was shot, he looked up at me and grabbed his heart, and his eyes glazed over," Ms. Fallon said.
Police have said that before the shooting, Kinnin slashed one of the officers three times, almost stabbing him in the heart even though it was protected by a bulletproof vest.
Ms. Fallon said she understands that a man with emotional problems, armed with a knife in a dark house, posed a threat. But she questioned why the officers didn't back out of the house or even shoot him in the shoulder or leg to incapacitate him.
"I'm condemning the force they used," she said. "I feel they could have disarmed him somehow. I do not feel he deserved the four bullets in his chest."
Town of Tonawanda Police Chief Samuel M. Palmiere refuses to comment further on the case, until the district attorney's office finishes its investigation. But he did issue a statement Tuesday in response to questions.
"The officers believed that they would be able to assist Mr. Kinnin as they had on other occasions," he said in part. "Unfortunately, his unrelenting attack upon them forced them to use necessary force to protect themselves. We feel that the officers acted properly and had no alternative."
Thomas H. Burton, an attorney representing the police officers, called the shooting tragic but "completely justified."