MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — A Memphis police officer is being called a hero after her comforting words stopped a teenage father from jumping off the I-40 bridge Thursday.
It’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words, but for officer Tina Shaw, this image brings one word to mind.
“Joy, joy,” she said.
It’s a joyful moment she’ll never forget. She uttered these words as the two held on to each other on the side of the icy bridge.
“I said, ‘Son, it’s going to be okay. God (is going to) get you through this,'” Shaw said. “‘It’s gone be ok,’ and he was crying, and I shed a few tears.”
Shaw, a 15-year veteran with the Memphis Police Department, is on its Crisis Intervention Team. As most of the department rushed to East Memphis to the scene of an officer-involved shooting, she stayed behind and headed to aid the 17-year-old boy.
“The spirit led me to go ahead,” Shaw said. “This is one of the reasons why I’m also a police officer. To help people who are suicidal, mentally ill, whether it’s ADHD, suicide or bipolar schizophrenic situations.”
Shaw said the teen was in tears talking about the struggle of being a young father and the pressures of life.
“He was pretty much crying out for help, and I saw it in his eyes, and I was telling him ‘Hey, your son needs you. There is no you without him, and there is no him without you,'” she said.
As a mother with two young sons herself, Shaw said after 15 minutes, she was able to convince him not to jump into the Mississippi River. She eventually reunited him with his family and sent him to a facility where he can get help.
“I actually had to lift his leg over and he grabbed me by my shoulder, and after he came back on the other side, we just immediately hugged each other,” she said.
When asked how it feels to have thousands of people calling her a hero during a time when the police department is under scrutiny, Shaw said, “It was the best feeling in the world. Despite all the negativity, there are quite a bit of officers on this department that are great.”
Shaw said she has been talking with the teen’s mother and looks forward to meeting with him soon. In the meantime, she said organizations have already come forward to help with different services, including education and job placement.