Richmond police officer saves woman who tried to set herself on fire

Updated: Nov. 10, 2020 at 6:13 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Richmond Police Department says an officer saved a woman who tried to set herself on fire last week.

On Nov. 3, First Precinct Officer Jason Jones and several other officers responded to the 1400 block of East Broad Street near the I-95 overpass, for the report of a woman threatening to set herself on fire.

When Officer Jones arrived on the scene, he found the victim standing on the sidewalk next to a plastic milk container filled with gasoline.

”I immediately thought about how I would want someone to help me and thought of the crisis intervention training that we go through that’s mandatory--and just talked to her as a person. Take yourself out of the uniform and put yourself in her shoes," said Jones.

She smelled like gas and admitted she had just poured it on herself. The victim’s clothes were dripping with gasoline as she held a lighter in her hand.

Officer Jones then directed the other officers to block traffic and stand by with fire extinguishers, as he started talking to the victim, who was very distraught.

“She wanted someone to hear her--she was talking about life, and talking about everything she was facing and going through--she felt her life wasn’t worth it. She kept saying, my life isn’t worth it, I said, yes it is. And I am here to let you know that it is worth it, and I am going to help you through this," he explained.

Officer Jones used classic Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) tactics and eventually convinced the victim to drop the lighter.

“I learned connecting with the person, trying to understand the what, when and why. Why are they going through this?” he said. “Do they suffer from this on a daily basis? Just connect with them, treat them like a person is the main thing.”

The victim was taken to a local hospital in order to get mental health treatment. Jones says after the situation, and the woman was taken to the hospital, he prayed for her.

“In situations that are really intense and really high, we try to bring down the intensity, slowing down people’s brain reactions so they can think and speak clearly, so we can get them into a safety plan and identify resources,” explained Katie Francis with ChildSavers.

She says it is important that people receive long term resources after they are discharged from the hospital following a mental health crisis.

“You can go to community service boards-- Richmond, Henrico, Goochland all have crisis lines you can call," said Francis.

“The quick and effective actions taken by Officer Jones undoubtedly contributed to saving this woman’s life. Outstanding work! We are so proud you are part of the RPD family," Richmond Police Department said on their Facebook page.

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