A DeKalb County police officer in Georgia says that during the early morning hours on Sunday, he went to church — not in a building, "but on a bridge." Officer Howie Sankofa shared on Facebook his recent experience helping a woman down from an overpass, and how it gave his career purpose.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the incident, which was partially captured on body camera, occurred over Interstate 20 at 4:45 a.m. on Sunday. As police shut down the interstate and road where it occurred, Officer Sankofa spoke with the unidentified 29-year-old woman for an hour.
Sankofa said that he spoke to the woman as, not a policeman, but "a person who has felt hopeless [and] alone."
"I wanted this woman to know that she was not alone, that her life mattered, [and] that I was there to help," he wrote. The officer added that, at that moment, his only mission in life was to save her.
Through their conversation, he convinced the woman to lean back and he reached through the small gaps of the chain link fence to clutch her clothing.
"I didn't let go," he said. "At times she continued to let go of the fence, but I didn't let go... I kept talking and she kept listening."
According to Sankofa, the woman eventually decided not to jump and walked inch by inch down the ledge to safety. As she slowly made progress, he would have her stop every few steps so he could pull part of her shirt through the next hole of the chainlink fence.
"She summoned the strength to save herself, we finished her walk together," Sankofa shared. "As I carried her to the ambulance, I became overwhelmed with emotion, but then I felt a calm come over me, my version of God was with me in that moment."
The officer concluded: "This incident has given purpose to my 18 year police career. This woman helped me just as much as I helped her, [and] I will be eternally grateful for the moments we shared on that bridge this past Sunday Morning.”
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
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