Hero cop’s hug saves suicidal man at Queens Center mall

By Bill Parry

An off-duty NYPD cop saved the life of a suicidal man at the Queens Center mall in Elmhurst with a simple hug. Officer Christian Campoverde was shopping with his wife and child around 2 p.m. Dec. 20 when he heard a man mumbling that he wanted to kill himself as he pushed his way up an escalator.

Sensing that something was wrong, Campoverde began to follow the man, but did not catch up to him until he had one leg over the side of a third floor balcony railing. Campoverde reached the balcony area and grabbed the man’s waistband and began to ask him why he wanted to take his own life, according to the NYPD.

That is when recent Crisis Intervention Team training kicked in.

Campoverde said, “Is it OK if I give you a hug. Do you want a hug?”

The man replied yes and Campoverde wrapped his arms around the man and pulled him to safety where he was taken by EMS for psychiatric evaluation.

The NYPD’s Crisis Intervention Training is a program that teaches officers on how to recognize signs of mental illness, respond to such calls and empathize with someone in the throes of crisis. Campoverde, a three-year veteran assigned to the 40th Precinct in the Bronx, underwent the training one week prior to the Queens Center mall rescue.

“I just saw somebody who needed help,” Campoverde said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

More from Around New York