Cleveland officers describe emotional rescue
Video interviews by police released
When officers arrived at Ariel Castro's home in Cleveland, a crowd had formed on the porch.
But where was the woman they came for? Where was Amanda Berry?
Then she stepped forward, holding a crying child. It was really her, the missing girl they had searched for for 10 years.
It is Amanda Berry, Officer Michael Tracy said.
"Just the emotion at that point of my partner confirming that it was Amanda ... It was overwhelming," Officer Anthony Espada recalled.
Cleveland police this week released the emotional video interviews of officers Espada, Tracy and Barbara Johnson, who helped in the May 6 rescue of the three women from Castro's home.
The 11-minute video, which is posted on YouTube, provides the most graphic detail to date of the harrowing rescue. It's also a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse at the raw emotions of officers involved in the ordeal.
Once they had Berry, they wondered who else was in Castro's home.
Was the suspect in there? They asked Amanda, as the child continued to wail.
"She says yes, Gina DeJesus and another girl," Espada said. "It was like another bombshell with overwhelming force hit me. We immediately started running toward the house."
When they entered the home, it almost seemed peaceful, Espada recalled.
As if nobody else was there. Nobody was in the basement. Nobody was downstairs.
And then they heard the sound of scurrying feet upstairs.
"It was Michelle (Knight). She kind of popped out into the doorway," Espada said, his voice cracking with emotion.
"She came charging. She was like. 'You saved us. You saved us.' And I am holding on to her so tight. And within a few seconds, I see another girl come out of the bedroom."
He immediately recognized the girl, Espada said, probably from missing posters that date to 2004. But she looked thinner than he remembered. He asked the girl to say her name.
She said her name was Georgina DeJesus, he recalled.
"It was very overwhelming," Espada said. "It took everything to hold myself together."
One of the women also jumped into Johnson's arms, screaming at the female officer.
"She was saying 'please don't let me go. Please don't let me go,'" Johnson said. "I said, 'Honey don't worry, I am not going to let you go."
Johnson said Espada stared at her with an unreadable expression.
We found them, Espada said.
"I can't even explain the emotions we felt," Johnson said. "It was just unbelievable. It was surreal. The heaviness in the heart just lifted."
Castro, 52, was arrested quickly after that. He is in jail on charges of kidnapping and rape, and is accused of snatching the three women between 2002 to 2004, and holding them ever since.
His attorney has said he plans to plead not guilty.
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