Richmond cop talks mentally ill man down from 25-foot ledge in Richmond

23rd Street fight turns fatal

It took Richmond police about five minutes to talk an apparently suicidal homeless man off a ledge along Interstate Highway 80 Sunday afternoon, police said.

At about 3:50 p.m., Richmond police received a call about a man who appeared to be stuck on a fence that rests atop a 25-foot-tall wall separating the highway from 45th Street.

But when one of the officers arrived at the scene and was flagged down by a concerned citizen, he learned the 46-year-old man was not stuck but possibly threatening to jump, said Sgt. Nicole Abetkov, who also responded to the scene.

While the Richmond Fire Department was called to provide a ladder truck, it was not needed. The responding police officer explained to the mentally ill man that the 25-foot fall likely would paralyze him rather than kill him, and assured that help was waiting, Abetkov said.

Although the man told the cop “the world is against me,” he decided against jumping and was picked up by authorities on the shoulder of the freeway. He was transported to the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, where he was placed on a 72-hour mental health hold, Abetkov said.

Police were relieved by the outcome, Abetkov said.

“It could have been a lot worse,” she said.