New Haven officers talk down suicidal woman

(New Haven Police body cam)

A dramatic rescue in New Haven late last month was all captured on a police body camera.

A woman was sixteen stories up, on a ledge of a New Haven apartment tower and threatening to jump when officers grabbed her and brought her to safety.

New Haven Police Officer Elvin Rivera and Officer Elsa Berrios, who are husband and wife, played a big role in the rescue of a 24-year-old woman on July 30.

Only a few seconds was captured on an officer's body camera as police struggled, yet managed to pull a woman off the ledge at the top of the Madison Towers on Park Street, which was 191 feet up from the ground.

"Sixteen stories and there was limited room,” Rivera said. “We were within a couple of feet off the ledge."

The 24-year-old woman, who was emotionally disturbed, was on the roof and drinking merlot wine and beer. She told officers she wanted to end her life.

"We talked in English. We talked in Spanish,” Berrios said. “We talked about religion, we talked about family and continuously I was just pleading with her not to do it."

As Berrios pleaded with the woman, her husband, who is a trained hostage negotiator, arrived at the scene.

"She continued dangling back and forth of the edge and I kept trying to tell her to please hold onto the fence, that she was important, that she was loved, that God loved her, that I loved her,” Rivera said. “I opened my arms up and told her to come to me several times."

But, the woman wouldn't come close enough for him to grab her.

"She went back and forth on the rooftop stumbling and at points, she actually went backwards,” Rivera said. “I don't know what held her up at that point."

After being on the hot tar roof for an hour, the woman told officers her feet were on fire and asked for some ice. When the ice arrived that's when Rivera saw his chance.

"I extended my arm and when she came a tad bit closer, I quickly reached out and grabbed a hold of her arm and pulled her in closer to my body at which point I yelled out to the officers which were waiting,” Rivera said.

They pulled the woman to safety and were later reunited when she came to the New Haven Police Department this time with a message for them.

"She was ever so thankful for everyone and what she said and what's still in my mind was that, thank you for not giving up on me and that in itself was a bit emotional when she said that to me,” Berrios said. “Great outcome, great team."

"Obviously it’s what we do, protect and serve and it makes you feel good inside when you do save someone's life,” Rivera said.

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