A longtime San Diego police officer who rescued twin girls after their father intentionally drove his car -- with them inside -- off Sunset Cliffs now has his very own day named after him: Jonathan Wiese Day.
San Diego City Councilmember Mark Kersey declared Aug. 6 Jonathan Wiese Day in honor of San Diego Police Department Officer Jonathan Wiese. Kersey presented the proclamation to the officer at the Rancho Bernardo Community Council Meeting via Zoom Thursday evening.
“Officer Jonathan Wiese is a bona fide hero and an exemplary public servant,” Kersey said. “We are grateful for his selfless, courageous service to our city.”
Wiese – a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and graduate of Rancho Bernardo High School – has been with the SDPD for more than 20 years. And, in those two decades, he has shown heart on the job more than once.
On June 13, his instincts as both a police officer and a father were put to the ultimate test.
That morning, just after 5 a.m., Wiese was on duty when he heard a call for help over the police scanners. It involved a pair of 2-year-old girls. The call jolted him; Wiese is the father of a 2-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy.
“’Male subject left his house with his twin 2-year-old daughters, was possibly armed with a gun and threatening suicide by driving his truck off the Coronado Bridge,’” Wiese said in an interview with NBC 7 just after the incident, as he recalled the heart-wrenching call.
Wiese said he rushed to the Coronado Bridge but just a few minutes later, he found out the suspect – Robert Brians, 47 – was driving quickly through Point Loma and had plunged off Sunset Cliffs, near Hill Street, into the ocean below.
The officer's mind was racing.
“’Oh my God,’” he thought. “’What the heck? Please tell me the kids weren’t in there. Please tell me he dropped them off.’”
Wiese said he was one of the first responding officers at Sunset Cliffs.
He saw Brians’ mangled car upside down in the water. He said he thought about jumping in, and estimated a 30-foot drop, but then he remembered he had a 100-foot leash in his patrol car.
Wiese is an SDPD K-9 Officer. He said only five K-9 officers have the specific leash, which is most commonly used during SWAT-related cases.
He immediately knew he had to put it to use.
Wiese tied the leash around his body and passed the other end to officers standing by. Then, he rappelled down the cliff.
He said once he made it down the side of the cliff, Brians was in the ocean holding his two daughters while trying to tread water and keep from drowning.
“He had both girls," Wiese
explained. "He was holding them and trying to tread water, but they were
all going under. One was awake and crying the other one was pretty
Wiese managed to rescue the family, pushing them onto the rocks.
The officer said one of the girls was struggling to breathe. He knew he had to get her to medics quickly in order to save her life.
“She was somewhat crying, somewhat not,” Wiese said in the prior interview with NBC 7. “I tried to invert her, get the water out of her lungs, make sure she’s breathing. I put her in the bag, they threw the leash back down and hoisted her back up.”
Wiese said the rescue took an emotional toll on him. As a dad, he said thinking of his wife and kids is what motivated him to act so quickly.
“I would do for the public, what I would do for them,” the officer said. “I treat everyone that way. I treat them as if they were my family down there, and that’s pretty much what happened in this case.”
Police believe Brians’ plunge from Sunset Cliffs was a suicide attempt. He was arrested and charged with several counts including kidnapping and attempted murder of his twin daughters.
The father pleaded not guilty on June 23. A protective order has been filed for Brians’ daughters and their mother. He is being held at the Vista Detention Facility without bail and is set to appear in court next on Sept. 22.
Wiese has a reputation for springing into action.
In 2019, Wiese was honored for his response during the Poway Synagogue shooting. The city’s proclamation said the officer’s quick actions there led to the arrest of the shooting suspect at the Chabad of Poway.
“Whereas, Officer Jonathan Wiese demonstrates great bravery and stands as an example of selfless courage in his duties to protect the public,” the proclamation states. “On behalf of the people of San Diego, does hereby declare August 6, 2020 to be Officer Jonathan Wiese Day in the City of San Diego.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.