Body camera footage shows tense moments before officer saved man from suicide

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IDAHO FALLS — Police body camera footage obtained by EastIdahoNews.com shows critical moments on a night Idaho Falls Police Officer Bart Whiting will never forget.

Whiting was honored as an “East Idaho Real Hero” Thursday by the American Red Cross for his heroic actions in saving a suicidal man on Jan. 12.

It was around 1 a.m. when police received a call that the man was on Shoup Avenue in downtown Idaho Falls.

“He was laying down on the ground with the gun pointed to his head,” Whiting recalls.

Whiting arrived within 30 seconds and quickly realized the man in his late 20s or early 30s needed help.

“I started talking to him and then he sat up,” Whiting tells EastIdahoNews.com. “The gun then became really big, just in my mind, because it was right there. I was really kind of freaking out inside a little bit.”

In the body camera footage, released by the Idaho Falls Police Department, Whiting is heard telling the man to put the gun down and the officer assures him that he will be treated with respect.

Over the next few minutes, as over a dozen other Idaho Falls Police officers and Bonneville County Sheriff deputies arrived, Whiting began building a rapport with the man.

“I think it’s imperative to say not only did he keep the guy from shooting himself, but he managed to keep the young man from pointing a weapon toward us and causing us to have to shoot him,” Idaho Falls Police Sgt. Timothy Downs says.

After the man was in protective custody, Whiting took him to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and then stayed with him another four hours. Whiting learned the man is a military veteran and is suffering with PTSD.

“He just had a really bad year,” Whiting says. “One of his best friends had completed suicide with a gun to his head.”

Melaleuca VP of Human Resources Shaun Hegsted presented the award to Idaho Falls Police Officer Bart Whiting at the American Red Cross luncheon Thursday. | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

Whiting received the American Red Cross Law Enforcement hero award but the officer says he was just doing his job and is glad he could help.

“I don’t think I did anything special,” Whiting says. “I do have a genuine love and care for people. I really believe in the ideal of the job and the shield. I really care about people.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: EastIdahoNews.com is teaming up with the American Red Cross of Greater Idaho to honor ordinary individuals who have done extraordinary things to help others.

The 11 winners of the 2018 East Idaho Real Heroes awards were announced March 8. Each day EastIdahoNews.com will profile a different winner.

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