Los Angeles Police Sgt. Bumjin Kim says he was at the right place at the right time when the frantic father of a 3-year-old screamed for help and handed his choking daughter’s limp body to the veteran officer.
Kim was hailed Tuesday as a hero for helping save the child — who had stopped breathing and turned blue — in a dramatic recuse caught on video on a sidewalk in the city’s Echo Park neighborhood.
“The initial sight of her slumped over in her dad’s arms and the color of the baby really was the first impression that I got that made me believe she was not breathing,” Kim said at a press conference.
“She had something in her mouth so I tried to sweep her mouth two or three times. The last time I got something out.”
The dramatic moment was caught on bodycam video footage released by the LAPD.
In it, the dad can be seen screaming, “Officer, please,” over and over as he fell to the ground on his knees in tears.
Kim, who happened to be patrolling the Echo Park area at about 5:45 p.m. on Jan. 19, immediately went into action.
It took only seconds for the officer to call dispatch to send paramedics to the scene.
At the same time, Kim held the child — whose name was not released — and tried to pull whatever was lodged inside her mouth.
Kim is seen in the footage turning the child over and patting her swiftly on the back until the toddler regained consciousness and started to cry.
“It’s okay, my love,” the child’s mom mother can be heard saying to her daughter as Kim handed the child back to her.
The child was later taken to a local hospital and was in stable condition, Kim said.
The incident was still fresh in the sergeant’s mind as he told reporters Tuesday how he felt after he saved the little girl’s life. Kim, a 15-year veteran of LAPD, also has a three-year-old son.
“At the time it really didn’t really cross my mind because it was about trying to get the baby breathing again,” Kim said. “Ten minutes later, I started to feel it. The sigh of relief and how fragile life can be.”
Lt. Raul Jovel, who heads the LAPD Rampart Division where Kim is based, said the humble sergeant is a hero and a leader in the department.
“It epitomizes our will to help anybody that we can,” Jovel said. “When I approached Sgt. Kim, he is such a humble man, but when I saw this video I was speechless. I teared up. I have three kids. A lot of officers have told me, ‘I could not have done what he did.’”
Jovel said he has invited the family to come to the station and meet the officer who saved their child’s life.
At the press conference, Kim held a up small teddy bear dressed in an LAPD officer’s uniform. He hopes to meet the family and give the bear to the little girl.
“This is not the type of attention I’m used to and what police officers are used to getting,” Kim told the Post after the press conference. “I’m actually more nervous in front of the cameras now than I was being at the scene.”