Exclusive: NYPD officer speaks out after talking down suicidal man from overpass

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Tuesday, October 24, 2023
NYPD officer reflects on rescuing man in distress on overpass ledge
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Michelle Charlesworth has more about the police officer and team behind the heroic rescue.

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- An NYPD officer broke down in tears after spending nearly 40 emotional minutes on a Riverside Drive overpass, talking down a suicidal man.

He spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News on Tuesday about the harrowing experience.

"I've been in your shoes, man. It's not worth it," Officer Carl Fayette told the man, standing on the edge of the overpass, in a conversation captured by his body worn camera. "I've been in your shoes, brother, and there are solutions. There is a way to ensure you get out of this situation."

"I believe that you're a good man. You're a good man and I promise you, brother, I promise you, we will do anything in our power to help you," he said. "Please listen to me."

Fayette told the man that not only does he care about him, but he cares about his life.

Fayette and Officer Eleodoro Mata pleaded with the man for nearly 40 minutes near 130th Street on Oct. 5 until Emergency Service Unit officers grabbed him and pulled him to safety.

The man at the ledge never spoke, but over time seemed more tired and off-balance. Every second that passed, the officers were aware things could change and Fayette knew his word choices were everything.

"Life is beautiful, life is precious," he said. "Being able to be there for him so he understands there is a shoulder for him to lean on, there is someone he can talk to, someone that he can consider as a friend -- I think it was a big deal for him."

Mata credits Emergency Services who cut through the fence and quietly climbed close to the man with harnesses.

"They encouraged us to keep talking to him while they got in place, and got on the other side of the fence," Mata said.

Once they came in and grabbed the man, Fayette stepped back and fell apart. He broke down and said he cried out of relief and was so glad it was over.

Pulling on his faith, love of family and friends - he says what is most sacred to him was what gave him the words.

"It comes from the heart, you do what you're supposed to do," Fayette said.

The man who was rescued is currently receiving treatment.

NYPD released the video last week to show the trauma these incidents can have on officers.

If you are experiencing suicidal, substance use or other mental health crises please call or text the new three-digit code at 988. You will reach a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to 988lifeline.org.


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