During a random audit of police body cam videos, a supervisor found this interaction (Jan. 10) between Sgt. Nick Boney, Ofc. Jimmy Wilson, and a woman whose daughter had just turned one. The woman was holding a bouquet of balloons trying to get home to her family on a cold night. pic.twitter.com/3pZKa2vGbB— Gwinnett County Police (@GwinnettPd) March 4, 2020
Sgt. Nick Boney and Officer Jimmy Wilson are seen singing “Happy Birthday” with the single mom and her three daughters in their apartment after the officers bought the youngest girl a birthday cake on Jan. 10 and gave the family a celebration to remember.
“As a kid, I remember the cake almost being the best thing about my birthday, so I was more than happy to go find a birthday cake for this 1-year-old,” said Wilson, 34. “It was heart-wrenching that the woman didn’t have enough money for a birthday cake."
It was dark and several hours past the dinner hour when he and Boney spotted the woman while patrolling in separate cars on Singleton Road in Norcross (population 16,787), about 20 miles northeast of Atlanta.
“It was obvious she was trying to get home, and it was extremely cold out,” said Boney, 38. “I saw the balloons and I just wanted to help her get home quickly. It is quite a walk to the nearest neighborhood or apartment complex, and I didn’t want her to have to walk in the freezing cold that far."
After the unidentified woman thanked him for “saving my daughter's birthday” and mentioned that she didn't have a cake, she climbed into the back seat of his patrol car. Boney then called Wilson over and asked him to run a quick errand.
“I'm going to give you my credit card — go get her a birthday cake with a number one candle,” he is heard saying on the body cam video.
During the ride to the woman's apartment, Boney said he was astonished and humbled to learn that she had walked almost two miles to the store in the cold to get her daughter some balloons.
“She never said she didn't have the money, but I made the assumption that was the case,” he said. “It really tugged at my heart."
At a nearby market, Wilson picked out a cheerful ice cream cake with “Happy Birthday” written on top in bright yellow, orange and green frosting, then found a No. 1 candle — the last one in the store.
On the video, he and Boney are then shown walking with the woman into her apartment, where they are greeted with hugs from each of her daughters.
“What she was willing to do for her daughter and how she raised her children speaks volumes to the mother she is,” Boney said. “She obviously was bringing up [her girls] to know that police were their friends and that they could trust and have fun with them."
As he and Boney joined the family in singing “Happy Birthday” to the beaming 1-year-old, they said they couldn’t help think of the celebrations they had enjoyed with their own children. Boney has a son who is 1, and Wilson is the father of kids who are 3 and 11.
“It was awesome to meet the birthday girl,” Wilson said. “My favorite reaction was seeing her and the rest of the kids blow the candle out. All it takes is a little love and compassion for one another — it was a special moment for me to give that family a memorable experience."
Although he and Wilson have received a lot of praise about their night on the “birthday beat,” Boney said he wants all of the credit to go to the mother they helped.
“She exhibits a love and caring for her family that people — most of the time — take for granted or never see,” he said. “She walked that far to give her daughter and family something special."
“Officers aren’t looking for credit — they just do this out of the kindness of their hearts,” he added. “It’s really what many people do — it’s just not seen all the time.”
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