Officers Helton and Burnett use tactical expertise To save a Houston man from committing suicide

Tom Kennedy

The Union presented Patrol Officers of the Month award to two officers who effectively prevented a would-be suicide victim from jumping 80-100 feet to his death on Aug. 5 at the Sidney Shelton Bridge at the Port of Houston.

The officers are Sean Helton and Franklin Burnett. Lt. Jonathan French of Northeast Division nominated the two officers, praising their tactical abilities and resourcefulness as they worked together to embrace the complainant and prevent him from jumping to his death.

Helton initiated the rescue when he spotted the victim as he held on to a sign pole on the outside section of the bridge. He was threatening to jump. The officer radioed for assistance which came in the form of Officer Burnett and Port of Houston police.

Burnett decided to close the freeway for safety reasons and to provide the officers involved with a quieter atmosphere at the scene.

Initially the Port police attempted unsuccessfully to talk the would-be victim to safety. Meanwhile, Helton and Burnett maneuvered themselves into a tactically sound position. They signaled the Port police that they were in position to grab the victim to safety.

“At the same time Officer Helton made his move Officer Burnett grabbed a hold of the complainant’s belt area ensuring that he would not be able to fall as well as putting his own life at risk,” French explained. “The complainant never saw Helton or Burnett until they grabbed him.”

They pulled the man back to safety and he started to cry over the circumstances that caused him to almost take his own life.

French said that had Helton and Burnett not taken the expert tactical actions they did this individual may well have carried out a suicide.

“These officers’ willingness to help, their immediate response, knowledge of the area and training, enabled them to help someone in need,” French said. “Their heroism and service make them vital to the health and safety of our communities.”