In the wake of the death of George Floyd, through a long tense summer and beyond, America’s police officers have faced everything from being spat on and called names far too vile to print, to nationwide calls for defunding their departments, to being murdered in cold blood by radicals who stood over them and scoffed as they lay bleeding to death.
Against this backdrop, it serves us well to take stock of not only the selflessness of police officers as they go about their daily jobs, often putting their lives on the line as they do, but also of the heroic deeds they often do — most of which don’t make national headlines.
One such act of heroism occurred last week atop the 13th story of a casino parking garage in Atlantic City, where a very distraught man was threatening to jump, as the situation deteriorated by the minute.
As reported by CBS3 in Philadelphia, Atlantic City police officer Eric Knuttel, a member of the city’s Crisis Negotiation Team, is being hailed as a hero for the extraordinary work he did in saving the man’s life.
Dramatic body camera footage shows the 5-year-veteran pulling the man from the ledge as he grows more and more distraught.
In the bodycam video, Knuttel can be heard telling the man, “I love you, alright? We’re here to help you.”
— Not the Bee (@Not_the_Bee) October 18, 2020
Here it is as reported by Philadelphia’s Action News 6.
— Bob Brooks (@BobBrooks6abc) October 17, 2020
The 33-year-old officer told CBS3:
“You could just hear in his voice he was distraught and he was hurting.”
Atlantic City Police told CBS3 they were contacted by a nearby police department about a suicidal man in Atlantic City who was threatening to jump from a bridge. Knuttel then located the distressed man sitting on a ledge at the top of the garage and began engaging with him in an effort to talk him down, as he grew more and more agitated.
Knuttel said his team was trying to build rapport with the man.
“We had a fairly long conversation. We were going to try to build rapport with him, so he knew somebody cared, and he knew somebody was there for him and not just him against the world.”
Ten minutes passed, during which the man, who had been drinking, grew upset after talking with someone on FaceTime. He then stood up.
Police bodycam shows officer risking his life to save suicidal man in Atlantic City – 6abc Philadelphia https://t.co/wWJy7RCWQC
— Trish Desilets Lilley (@TrishLilley1) October 16, 2020
“I saw him stand up and look toward the sides and he rolled his head down and he started walking. I knew that I had to do something,” Knuttel said. That something was running toward the man and grabbing his legs as two other officers pulled him back from the ledge.
“I knew when I had the lower half of his body and I had his one leg, I knew I wasn’t going to let him go,” Atlantic City Police Officer Eric Knuttel said. https://t.co/kkc8HGbys7
— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) October 17, 2020
Knuttel rubbed the man’s back and told him he loved him.
“I just could just hear it in his voice, he started crying. You could hear him weeping and I just remember telling him I loved him. I thought he needed to hear that.
“I had so much compassion and so much love for the man that I wanted him to know that people care about him. I never met him ever in my life. I believe that I was put there in that moment of time for that reason.”
The man was safely transported to an area hospital.
And officer Eric Knuttel? He told CBS3 he hopes to stay in contact with the man whose life he helped save. Of the man, he said: “I know he will succeed in life.”
Author and pastor Greg Laurie tweeted:
“God bless this true ‘Peace Officer’, Eric Knuttel, who not only saved a man from taking his own life but also told him, “I Love you!”.
God bless this true “Peace Officer”, Eric Knuttel, who not only saved a man from taking his own life but also told him, “I Love you!”.https://t.co/BSWnRQvjgo
— Greg Laurie (@greglaurie) October 17, 2020
As I was writing this article I found myself toggling between immense feelings of pride in the good people of this country and fits of anger over those who seek to destroy it. In the end, I said to myself, aloud:
“Hmm. That pretty much sums up 2020.”