Atlanta police officer helps save man from mental health crisis

Atlanta police officers are required to undergo 40 hours of crisis training.
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 3:50 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 2, 2023 at 7:26 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - An Atlanta police officer helped a man through a mental health crisis recently, helping save his life.

On Sept. 4, around 2:30 a.m., Atlanta police responded to 1015 Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway about a man suffering from a crisis. The man threatened to jump from an overpass sign.

Body camera footage shows the moments Officer Darren Washington responded to the scene.

“When I shined my light, I saw there he was hanging by both his arms. He just looked like he was in distress for sure,” said Washington.

The footage then shows two good Samaritans who also jumped into action.

Atlanta police officers are required to undergo 40 hours of crisis training.

Watch the full interview with Washington below:

The officer used to be a psychology doctor.

Washington said a part of that training is knowing when to step back.

“Very quickly, I noticed that he wasn’t responding to me but he was responding well to the gentlemen right there. The gentlemen who were speaking with him. He did a great job.”

The two men help save the 24-year-old’s life.

Washington said it’s a stigma they’re working to break surrounding policing.

“Social media might make it look like we take someone to jail every day. We don’t take people to jail for the most part. We probably save more lives than we put people in jail and that’s on any given night.”

Washington said it’s a prime example of what can happen when police and the community work together

“I definitely think it helped the situation,” he said.

Zone 1 Officer and Citizens Work Together During Crisis On 9/4/23, around 2:30 AM, Atlanta Police Zone 1 Officer Washington responded to 1015 Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway in reference to a male suffering from a crisis. Upon arrival, Officer Washington was met by two concerned citizens who noticed the male dangling from a highway sign on the overpass and called 911 for help. Shortly after, Officer Washington and the two citizens located the male, who was still dangling from the overpass, stating he wanted to end his life. The male was suffering from a crisis and threatening to jump onto the freeway. Officer Washington immediately notified dispatch of the situation at hand and requested the freeway to be shut down while he attempted to make contact with the male. However, the male appeared to be agitated by Officer Washington’s presence and would not speak to him. Having observed this, the two concerned citizens politely requested Officer Washington step away so they could attempt to communicate with the male. They displayed patience, empathy, and understanding and began to build a rapport. After several minutes, the citizens were able to talk the male out of jumping onto the interstate. Officer Washington’s timing was perfect as he stepped in to assist the citizens in escorting the male to safe ground. Grady EMS arrived and transported the male to the hospital for further evaluation. Officer Washington thanked both males for their help and teamwork and even recommended his supervisors accommodate both citizens. The Atlanta Police Department would like to thank Devante and Jamari for their bravery in assisting Officer Washington on the call and even taking the lead to de-escalate the situation to save someone’s life. This is a great example of citizens and police working together. If anyone is suffering a crisis, please do not hesitate to reach out for assistance. Dial 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Line or 911 for further assistance.

Posted by City of Atlanta Police Department on Thursday, September 28, 2023