A man threatening to jump from a parking garage was rescued by Atlantic City police Wednesday night.
The incident captured on police body cameras ended with Officer Eric Knuttel telling the distraught man he loved him and that they would make sure everything was alright.
“Knowing where he was and the dangers of just being up there on that rooftop, it was just such a relief to know we were on solid ground together in that secured spot,” Knuttel told BreakingAC on Friday.
Pleasantville police first alerted Atlantic City’s department at 8:43 p.m., telling them there was a suicidal man in Atlantic City who was threatening to jump from a bridge, Lt. Kevin Fair said.
Officers searching the city for the man were able to track him to the Claridge parking garage after family sent them a photograph of the man, according to the report.
“Knowing where he was and the dangers of just being up there on that rooftop, it was just such a relief to know we were on solid ground together in that secured spot.”Officer Eric Knuttel
Knuttel, a member of the department’s Crisis Negotiation Team for about three years, found the man sitting on a ledge at the top of the garage at 9:09 p.m.
The man was on a Facetime call and it wasn’t going well, Knuttel said.
“Why don’t you just talk to me?” Knuttel told him.
The body camera footage shows the man sitting on a elevated platform near the ledge.
“She don’t care right?” the man is heard saying, with Bally’s Atlantic City visible in the background.
The man’s face is blurred to protect his identity.
“You know what, man? You know what?” he says as he starts to stand up. “You know (expletive) what?”
“I knew he was done talking,” Knuttel said.
The officer’s shadow can be seen in the video as Knuttel runs toward the man.
The camera is covered as Knuttel gets to the man.
Knuttel grabbed on to the man’s legs as he was falling over the platform.
“Don’t hurt me,” the man says as Knuttel yells for the other officers to help pull them back up.
After a few seconds, the man is seen sitting as Knuttel hugs him, with other officers around patting the man’s back and comforting him.
“You’re good, bro. You’re good,” officers can be heard saying.
Knuttel has his arms around the man.
“You’re OK. We’re here for you,” he tells him.
“I love you,” he tells the man a couple times. “We’re going to make sure everything’s OK.”
Knuttel told BreakingAC he knew it was important in that moment of crisis to have the man know someone cared.
“We’ve all had crisis,” the Brigantine native said. “Bigger or smaller, they just overwhelm you. He wasn’t able to see clear at that moment. I had to get him to hear that (I love you) and that there’s somebody there that cares.”
Knuttel was quick to say he didn’t do this alone.
“It’s a whole team effort,” he said.
Sgt. John Waddell and Officers Matthew Stollenwerk, Randy Rodriguez-Marte, Irwin Sanchez and Kyle Fauvell.
“I am extremely proud of the bravery and compassion shown by Officer Knuttel and the other officers for this man who was in severe emotional distress,” Interim Officer-in-Charge James Sarkos said. “Their actions are indicative of the work routinely done by members of this police department. For years, the Atlantic City Police Department has taken a proactive approach when it comes to the mental health of our residents and visitors by partnering with social service organizations and providing training to our officers.”
The man was transported to the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s City Campus for an evaluation.
“It was just the biggest relief to know that he was alright,” Knuttel said. “I was alright, the other officers were alright and we were all going to be OK,”