Police are tasked with handling any situation, at any given time. And when lives are at stake, you have to be willing to do what’s necessary when the time comes. This means you can’t prepare for what’ll happen, and sometimes, you might need some help.
Officer Ashley Haresty was the one to respond to a call from a gas station in Columbia, South Carolina. A man inside the store, Donald Brown, had not only punched the clerk, the one who called the cops, but also pulled out a knife and wouldn’t let the clerk and another person leave the gas station.
When Brown went outside, he was confronted by Officer Haresty. And the whole thing was caught on video.
When Haresty confronted the suspect, he refused to back down. She tried talking him down, but the suspect still would not comply. It looked like he had no intentions of backing down.
It became clear this man was not going to stop, so the officer yelled at him to get on the ground, as she started pointing a taser gun at him. Brown refused to, so she resorted to using the taser.
But Brown would not go down.
The taser had little effect on the man. Haresty then tried to take him down physically, and it turned into a scuffle right in the middle of the gas station.
With the officer and the suspect fighting, and civilians close by, any number of things could’ve gone wrong.
Haresty was having a hard time subduing Brown, and it looked like she was all by herself in this.
But another person that was witnessing this was Cray Turmon.
Turmon is currently down on his luck, and is trying to get his life back on track; he’s homeless, and living in a local shelter. He just happened to be in the area while he witnessed this go down. And he knew the severity of the situation.
“She’d done everything she could,” Turmon told WACH about Officer Haresty. “Something had to be done.”
Knowing that the officer had used everything in her arsenal, Turmon decided to help her.
He went and tackled the suspect.
Turmon took him down to the ground, and this allowed the police to finally put the handcuffs on him. The suspect had been apprehended, thanks to Turmon.
He said how in that instance, he had tunnel vision; all he was focusing on was making sure the suspect wasn’t going to hurt Haresty, or anyone else in the area. And the police department wanted him to know how much they appreciated his selfless actions.
For his heroics, Turmon was recognized by the Columbia Police department, not only in a ceremony but on the department’s Facebook page as well. The page said how, “Often times, when you least expect it, an invaluable gift comes when you need it the most . . . Bravo Mr. Cray Turmon for your random act of kindness.”
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Turmon said himself that it’s nice to be on the good side of the law; part of the reason he’s struggling right now was because of his troubled past, notably the DUIs he’s gotten that caused him to lose his license.
“I’m an ex-criminal, and it actually felt good to have the law pat me on my back,” he said.
The police chief himself had honored the man with a certificate for his “extraordinary actions to preserve life and aid public safety.” He was also given two gift cards, just in time for Christmas.
In the eyes of Cray Turmon, he was just doing the right thing. Even police officers need help once in a while. Thanks to Turmon’s quick thinking, the suspect was taken down and what could’ve been something that resulted in — has been avoided.
And he hopes that his story shows that even if someone down on his or her luck like him can make a difference, then anyone can.
Stories like these aren’t easy to come by, so when they make the news, they circulate quickly. These great acts of humanity give us hope and inspire us, so it wasn’t surprising that in the aftermath of Turmon’s good deed, even complete strangers wanted to thank and congratulate him.
People started sending in donations—an iPad, gift cards, a museum membership, and, of course, cash via an online fundraiser.
“You just made the world a better place to live,” one kind man wrote on a GoFundMe page someone set up for Turmon. Within a couple of days, people raised over four times the $1,000 goal—but with it came both positive and negative feelings for Turmon.
Turmon, who is a struggling with alcoholic, felt the attention suddenly turn overwhelming. With sudden access to all this cash, he started feeling the pressure.
“People I don’t even know,” he said. “I’m trying to stay humble.”
Luckily, people in the community have been offering him support as well. There have been people helping Turmon get job interviews and helping him manage a secure account with the fundraiser money so he is able to put it to good use.
“I don’t want handouts,” Turmon said. “It’s all about me trying to work and earn my own money.”
Turmon said he wanted the money to go through the homeless support group Transitions, so he would be sure to spend it on things he needed.
Lauren Wilkie, of the downtown center for homeless adults, said:
“For someone who’s in recovery, cash is going to hurt more than it’s going to help.”
“We will give him all the cash when he’s ready.”
Turmon had tried earlier in the year to finish a Transitions program but failed, and later came back to try again.
Wilkie told Turmon they were more than willing to let him try as many times as he wanted.
“We’ll let you fail as many times as you need to until you’re ready to succeed,” Wilkie said. And Turmon agreed: “I’m behind her 110 percent.”