It’s easier to think of things in absolutes. But good and bad, right and wrong, can sometimes be more nuanced.
You never know what someone is capable of doing. Even police officers, who stake their living on putting bad guys behind bars, are caught by surprise on occasion.
Fort Lauderdale police thought they had Jamal Rutledge figured out. He was well known to local officers, and when they picked him up again, many considered it more of the same.
But if you ask officer Franklin Foulks, Rutledge’s arrest was nothing short of divine intervention.
Jamal Rutledge, 17, was being booked in Ft. Lauderdale by officer Franklin Foulks in 2014. It was a night neither will ever forget.
Rutledge was picked up by officers for violating the terms of his parole of a previous arrest. Because he was still a minor at the time, the exact violations are unknown to the public.
Everything was going accordingly until officer Foulks fell out of his chair. One minute, the officer was filling out paperwork at his desk, and the next he was clutching at his chest and quickly losing consciousness.
Rutledge, who was handcuffed at the time, cautiously walked over to the officer, still unsure of what was happening. When he realized Foulks was having a cardiac episode, instead of trying to escape, he began hollering for help.
Security footage shows the teen shouting, pacing the cell, and kicking the gate to get the attention of other guards.
Officer Foulks suffered a heart attack while writing the report for Rutledge’s arrest. The teen was credited with saving his life.
The video shows two officers cautiously approaching the gate where Rutledge was held. A third officer rushes in from behind the camera.
The Sun Sentinel reported that officers Robert Norvis, Raymond Ketchmark, and Todd Bunnin worked quickly to save their fellow officer.
They cut off his shirt, applied CPR, and used a defibrillator to jump start his heart again.
Rescue crews arrived shortly afterwards and Foulks was transported to nearby Broward Health Medical Center. The heart attack was considered a minor one because of the quick response.
Because Rutledge was the first to respond to Foulks’ heart attack, he was honored alongside the responding officers.
“What they gave me back that night was the ability to continue to enjoy my family,” Foulks said at the ceremony a few months later.
All of the responding officers and paramedics were on hand to receive awards. Officer Norvis, Ketchmark, and Bunin were all named officers of the month.
Rutledge hoped the incident could spur him on to turning his life around, though the Sun Sentinel reported he had been arrested multiple times since he helped save Foulks’ life.
Gordon Weekes, the chief assistant Broward public defender, did acknowledge at the time that there was hope for the young man, though.
“To have police recognize that he has redeemable qualities that can be harnessed and used to propel him into a future where he doesn’t get arrested, that is good,” he told the Sun Sentinel.
“It’s a question of character,” said Weekes. “There is something in him that can’t be taught. He is a good kid, and he stepped up when he needed to.”