Officer: 'He hugged me, I hugged him back. He was going to live another day.'

Posted at 10:28 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 23:36:36-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Her compassion and that of her colleagues, may have saved a life Wednesday evening. Ask security officer Karen Hodge about it and she’ll tell you, everything you saw from her just comes naturally.

You ask any of her colleagues at G4S services and no one is surprised to hear officer Hodge went above and beyond to help someone else.

Wednesday evening was meant to be a shift like any other, but on this day a group of protesters from the previous night were gathered near the Davidson County jail.

More than 60 protesters were arrested and charged with criminal trespass for being near the Capitol building the night before. One by one, protesters were released over the next 15 hours.

That’s where we found the man in the green shirt. I say green shirt because in talking with protesters, no one seemed to know his name. All they knew was, he was arrested alongside them the same night.

When he was released, the man in the green shirt began to pace around the exit doors, before dropping to his knees in front of officer Hodge and her partner.

“He just kept saying he wants to fight somebody. He wants to do this to this officer and that to that officer,” said Hodge.

By then Metro Nashville Police was on the scene and from the looks on the faces of protesters, everyone understood the situation could go one of two ways.

What happened next I can say was one of the most compassionate displays of patience I’ve ever seen, given the circumstances.

For the next several minutes, officer Hodge and Metro Police talked to the man. Gave him water, a cold towel and an opportunity to be heard.

“He said ‘I was going to do something to make y’all shoot me,’” said Hodge.

It may have been the first time officer Hodge heard herself say those words out loud because what followed after were tears.

We decided not to speculate about the man any more than we may have already, but protesters nearby said they were concerned for the man’s mental health. Officer Hodge said she was concerned too.

“You see people around here that need help, but if you don’t talk to some people to see what they need, they don’t get it,” said Hodge.

Officer Hodge knew from that moment, she wasn’t going anywhere. She sat by the man and put her arm around him, consoling him after what she could only describe as a breakdown.

When asked about any special deescalation techniques she learned on the force, she says not really. Everything we saw was about as genuine as it gets. There was no playbook, just conversation.

What followed was a hug that seemed to last for minutes.

"He hugged me, I hugged him back. He’s going to live another day. He’s going to live another day," said Hodge.

We showed officer Hodge the photo we took of the both of them and she was shocked. Up until that moment, she had only heard that a photo exists.

“I’m just so glad that I could be at a place, at a time to help somebody else that needs help,” said Hodge.

The man was taken to a mobile facility for help, without a problem and without handcuffs.

Every so often we’re exactly where we need to be when we need to be there. For officer Hodge, her hope is to always be there.

“I don’t care skin color. Male, female, I don’t care. I’m going to react to it. I’m going to be there,” said Hodge.