Some situations require law enforcement to rely on compassion, smarts and instincts.
In other cases, lightning-fast action is what’s needed.
And then there are scenarios that call on officers to use all of the above — just as a Virginia deputy did on Tuesday night, in a life-or-death scene that played out on an overpass ledge and was captured on the deputy’s body camera.
Deputy James Robinson was called to the overpass on reports of “a man in crisis.” The man was sitting on a ledge above Route 60 in Williamsburg, Virginia, when the deputy drove up, according to the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office.
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Robinson approached by foot and tried to calm the man, who was peering onto the highway below with his legs dangling over the edge of the overpass, video shows. He asked the man to come down from the cement guardrail he was perched on, and tried to establish a bond with the man — asking him over and over again if he was doing OK.
“I won’t touch you, I won’t do anything. Can you come back on this side for me? Can you do me a favor and come back on this side while we talk?” Robinson asks the man. “What’s wrong?”
For the most part, the man on the ledge is unresponsive, video shows.
“I just want to know what’s up. That’s it,” Robinson says. “I just want you to talk to me for a moment so I can figure out what’s going on. Is something wrong?”
But all the while, Robinson inches closer and closer. The sun sets behind them, and semi-trucks and cars whiz past the unfolding drama.
Over the course of about three minutes, Robinson gets relatively close to the man, speaking to him reassuringly as he arrives at the guardrail.
Then, after minutes of trying to talk the man down, Robinson manages to distract the man. That provides Robinson his opening: He suddenly lunges for the man, grabs hold of him and pulls him from his perch, video shows.
“I got him off,” Robinson says over his radio, video shows.
The sheriff’s office said Robinson quite possibly saved the man from jumping.
“I’ve got nothing left,” the man says on the ground as the officer holds him, video shows.
The man appears to be shaking and crying.
“Man you do, you’ve got plenty left,” Robinson assures him. “Look at me. You’ve got a lot left.”
The man was taken to a local hospital after paramedics treated him at the scene, the sheriff’s office said. His identity was not released by police, and his face was blurred in the video posted online.
“Deputy Robinson showed the utmost compassion for the man and reassured him that he still has a lot to live for,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a Facebook post. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to this man and his family.”
Hundreds commented on and shared the Facebook post, praising the deputy for his quick, life-saving actions.
“You are a true hero,” one commenter wrote. “You showed compassion, caring, hope, and acceptance of his condition without criticizing or stigmatizing him. We need more of you out there in this fight.”