Police talk man off highway ledge in Richmond

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Police coax man off ledge near I-580 overpass in Richmond
Photo courtesy of the Richmond Police Department

Police officers successfully talked a man suffering from a mental health crisis off a highway ledge in Richmond Friday night.

Richmond police officers Amela Nurko and Robert Wright responded to the scene on a report of a possible jumper and found a man sitting on the concrete wall near the entrance to westbound Interstate 580 at Bayview Avenue, police said.

“He was straddling the wall, seated, with his hands on the guard rail,” police said. “His right leg was dangling over the 40’ drop. He was highly agitated, ranting about his ex-wife, the government, and multiple conspiracy theories.”

Officer Nurko was the first to attempt to coax the man off the ledge, but he remained agitated. Then Richmond police Sgt. Elizabeth Bashan arrived and took charge of the scene, helping to establish a perimeter preventing traffic on Bayview Avenue. The California Highway Patrol stopped all westbound I-580 traffic.

Officer Nurko tried to develop a rapport with the man as he ranted. While there were no RPD Crisis Negotiation Team officers available at the time, El Cerrito police Officer Stephanie Chan arrived to take over official negotiations. Officer Chan “kneeled close to him, to seem less intimidating, and proceeded to get him to relax further,” police said.

Soon, Richmond police Officer Ben Therriault, also a trained crisis negotiator, responded to the scene to assist Chan in calming the man down, police said.

“Eventually, she and Officer Therriault convinced him to come off the wall,” police said. “After he was at the median on Bayview, he was detained for mental evaluation.”

The Contra Costa County Mental Health Evaluation Team was notified and the man was transported to the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center.

“In the beginning of the incident, it was very unclear which end result would reveal itself,” police said. “The supervisors and officers exhibited excellent teamwork, crisis intervention, patience, and service to the community.”