I was only two years on, just a newby, driving around in a shiny police car, wearing a neatly pressed uniform, and a smile you just couldn’t get off my face. I heard that the city police were responding to a jumper (someone had leapt off the top of a building) just one block from me. I turned on the lights and siren and hit the gas, driving very quickly to the other side of the block. This was in a downtown area at about 10 AM and there were people everywhere pointing for me to see a man lying on the sidewalk. I grabbed my First Aid Kit and ran out to save a life. Way too late.
One person told me, “He just stopped blinking and making noise just as you drove up.” Uck.
I checked for a pulse, but found nothing. The man was lying face down on the brickwork sidewalk, but was bent at the waist at a funny angle. His head seemed to melt into the sidewalk, as though it extended a couple of inches into the ground, though I knew that it wasn’t the sidewalk that had given. A wave of thick, dark blood rolled slowly toward the gutter and there were several teeth lying about nearby. I got on the radio and said, “I think he’s out of the game.” It’s not like I practiced that, it sounds stupid even as I write it. Hey, I was new. That’s what came out of my mouth.
I was busy trying to cordon off the area for the city police, who had not yet arrived, when another witness told me that it had looked like he was trying to grab one of the evergreen trees that lined the roadway, on his way down. Like maybe he had changed his mind or something. Someone else said that he had landed on his feet, buckled in half, and his head struck the sidewalk, hard, and he didn’t get up.
A bystander ran up to me, and right out of the First Aid/CPR training video, said, “I know First Aid and CPR. Can I help?”
I pointed to the gentleman on the sidewalk and asked, “Do you want to perform rescue breathing?”
He looked down at the dead man, whose mouth was pressed against the brick, and hesitated. “Um, no.”
I gave him some latex gloves and asked him to double check for a pulse.
Firefighters and paramedics arrived and set up a better perimeter. Then the city police arrived. I was pretty frazzled at this point, so I gave my information to the first arriving officer, including the statements of the pedestrians. He smiled at me like, this isn’t my first rodeo, son.
And so I drove away, listening to the radio just to see what was going on with the investigation. About 30 minutes later, I heard a city officer report that he had found the location that the man had jumped from, at the top of a parking garage. He reported that the area was littered with crumpled up money, heroin, baggies, a knife, and bloodstains. Even if he had jumped, it was in a desperate attempt to avoid another violent death. The city police immediately began widening their perimeter and doing door to door checks for witnesses, now that they had a murder, and not a suicide.
There is a reason that they teach us to investigate suicides as murders until we are certain they are not.