A suspect grabbed the gun of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy and attacked him in a parking lot in South Whittier on Aug. 25. While he was fighting for his life, three citizens jumped in to assist him.
The act of bravery happened at 3:10 p.m. in the 15000 block of Leffingwell Road and was recorded in a video broadcast by CBS Los Angeles.
According to Deputy Eric Ortiz of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Information Bureau, the deputy was responding to the report of a suspicious person, reported KTLA.
“At some point, the suspect took a fighting stance and swung at the deputy, and a fight ensued,” Ortiz told KTLA.
“While on the ground, the suspect reached for the deputy’s handgun,” he said. As the brawl continued the magazine dropped from the deputy’s weapon.
The deputy was struggling to keep the suspect away from grabbing his pistol from his holster when three good Samaritans from three different directions came to his assistance.
“With the assistance of the Samaritans, the deputy handcuffed the suspect,” said Ortiz.
Captain Jim Tatreau took to Twitter to thank the three brave citizens. “THANK YOU! To the 3 brave citizens who helped a #NorwalkStation deputy who was fighting for his life. Susp tried to take dep’s #gun from holster & citizen helped dep to retain it, magazine ejected,” wrote Tatreau.
He said the deputy was being treated for minor injuries.
Dep. being treated for minor injuries.
Captain Jim Tatreau pic.twitter.com/uFulwJUsdJ
— LASD Norwalk Station (@NorwalkLASD) August 25, 2019
CBS7 identified one of the good Samaritans as Brian Whitney, who described what he saw that day.
“heard the officer yelling, ‘Get your hands off my gun,'” Whitney said. “So, then I went in and I ripped the dude’s hands off the officer’s gun. And then one of the other good Samaritans took the clip out and slid it away just in case.”
He said the other two Samaritans were also of great help in saving the deputy’s life. “The officer was being overpowered and another two gentlemen really helped as well,” he said.
While backup arrived soon, Whitney said he acted on his instincts. “I didn’t want nothing bad to happen to the officer or to the homeless guy, even though he was already getting, you know, dirt on the floor,” said Whitney.
Captain Jim Tatreau told CBS7 that things would have taken a tragic turn if the three brave men had not come to the deputy’s assistance.
“I mean, if that guy was able to overcome the deputy and he got in control of that firearm, then everybody in that area would be in trouble,” said Tatreau.
He said the act of bravery was a “big deal.”
“It’s a big deal. It’s a big deal, not only for our community, it’s a big deal for me personally,” said Tatreau.
“I’m responsible for these men and women here and we have some of the best citizens in Norwalk, Lone Rider, Houston, South Whittier. And so it doesn’t surprise me that they stepped up. But it does remind me and others how good they are when they do something like that,” he said.
LASD Norwalk Station later reposted a message from a user on Twitter about the incident.
“Likely, an amazing example of when your community feels protected, they support and protect you. Working together we’re stronger. Officer’s family, friends, Dept so grateful,” the post said.
Likely, an amazing example of when your community feels protected, they support and protect you. Working together we’re stronger. Officer’s family, friends, Dept so grateful 🙏🏽 https://t.co/95zbKzH0bO
— Chris 🚔 (@ChrisInSanJose) August 26, 2019
CBS Los Angeles said the deputy is a rookie and the suspect is a homeless man who was booked and charged with assault.