ELMHURST — An off-duty police officer saved a suicidal man from jumping off a balcony at the Queens Center Mall last week by asking the man if he needed a hug, police said.
Officer Christian Campoverde, who is assigned to the 40th Precinct, was shopping at the busy mall with his wife and child when he heard a man mumble that he wanted to kill himself while walking up the escalator, according to police and the New York Post, which originally reported the story.
Campoverde followed the man and found him with one leg over a balcony railing, police said.
The officer — who earlier this month completed the NYPD's Crisis Intervention Team training — grabbed the man's waistband and began to speak with him, police said.
He asked him, "is it OK if I give you a hug, do you want a hug?" and brought him to safety when the man replied "yes." The man was brought by EMS for evaluation, police said.
The officer said he "just saw somebody who needed help" and decided to act, according to the NYPD website.
The Crisis Intervention Team promotes empathy and compassion when dealing with crisis situations, the NYPD said. They train police officers with mental health professionals to promote safety.