Last Wednesday at City Hall, New York City Police Officer Yi Huang received a special proclamation from City Councilman Vincent Gentile for his role in helping to save the life of a despondent man named Lin Huan Quiang, as reported by Denise Romano for the Home Reporter. Lin, an immigrant from China, had attempted to jump off the Verrazano Bridge.
The humble and undoubtedly heroic Officer Huang had responded to a call put out for speakers of Cantonese, the only language Lin is fluent in. He rushed to the scene from the NYPD’s Fifth Precinct in Chinatown, going “above and beyond the call of duty,” as Gentile proclaimed to members of the press. As wind and loud thunderstorms made the task more difficult, Huang and the other first responders were able to save Lin from a premature and needless death.
However, according to at least one account, there is another police officer who also deserves credit.
In the week after the July incident, veteran police reporter and author Leonard Levitt detailed a purported insiders account of the incident in his weekly online column NYPD Confidential.
The difference between the official story put out by the press and what Levitt says really happened?
Levitt writes that, while Huang was there and served a vital role as translator, it was MTA Bridge and Tunnel officer and fluent Cantonese speaker Eddie Fung who quickly forged a rapport with Lin, and proceeded to spend four hours talking him down.
He pointed out that neither a Daily News editorial on Lin’s rescue, nor the NYPD Public Information Office’s account of the incident even mention MTA Officer Fung, although most media reports explicitly declare that NYPD Officer Huang and civilian Lin both hail from Taishan, a fishing village in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.
While a piece from the Staten Island Advance’s website, which served as Bay Ridge Odyssey’s primary source about the incident, does acknowledge Officer Fung as responding to the scene, it also seems to play up Officer Huang’s role, including highlighting the fact that Lin and Officer Huang had emigrated from the same province.
Fortunately for Officer Fung, his NYPD brothers are apparently above the petty politics of inter-departmental rivalry.
NYPD ESU officers reportedly paid tribute to Fung in a private ceremony on July 26. It was then that the uncelebrated hero – who talked a disconsolate man out of a desperate act of self destruction – received proper recognition from his colleagues which is, after all, what really counts.