HOLLYWOOD — Officers of the Seminole Police Department and Coconut Creek Police Department, along with Security staff from the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek were honored March 22 at a Seminole Tribal Council meeting. The officers were presented with Florida Police Chiefs Association Lifesaving Awards.
The awards are given when an exceptional lifesaving act occurs that places the nominee’s life in jeopardy.
The officers were awarded for their involvement in an incident that occurred Feb. 14 on the roof of the parking garage at the casino in which Seminole Police and Coconut Creek police officers prevented a man from committing suicide.
In a summary by the Seminole Police Department, officers responded to a call from casino security who reported “a man was acting strangely and that he climbed on the wall and indicated he was going to kill himself by falling the almost 100 feet to the ground below.”
The summary also states that the man was armed with a box cutter and “flailed it from time to time to keep the distance between he and the police staff on scene.”
A crisis negotiator from the Coconut Creek Police Department arrived on scene and “kept a constant dialogue with the suicidal subject—prolonging the safe time and allowing the additional officers and support staff to arrive, as the security personnel redirected the public and kept a secure area so that the subject would not feel threatened and customers would not be injured.”
The entire incident lasted for two hours. It was captured on video surveillance from the parking garage and SPD body camera.
Clips of the footage were screened for Tribal Council and Board members. In the footage the man can be seen perched on a concrete barrier. The man threatened to throw himself over the edge several times. The footage from the camera is jarring to watch as the man decides to let his body fall over the barrier and officers leap to rescue him.
The top of the concrete barrier is all that can be seen as officers struggle to lift the man back up. At times the camera shifts, providing a glimpse of the steep 100 foot fall below. While not seen in the footage it was reported that “five officers suffered injuries from bites, scrapes, and leg and back strain injuries during the attempt to catch and then lift this person over the wall.”
Even at risk of injury for themselves the officers persevered in their struggle to guide the man to safety.
“It was one of the most heroic actions I have seen in my life, where our employees put themselves in grave danger for a person they did not know,” said Chief of Police John Auer of the Seminole Police Department. He also added that the officers showed an “appreciation of their unselfish dedication to the preservation of life.”
During the Tribal Council meeting, the officers were congratulated by the Council and the Board.