CHINATOWN, SAN FRANCISCO – In a harrowing incident caught surveillance video on Sunday, an Asian police officer in San Francisco – forced to work without a partner due to staff shortages – was saved by bystanders after she was viciously attacked on the street by a crazed, racist man, according to reports.
The officer, who has not been identified, was in the process of responding to a call regarding a man who was allegedly making racial threats against Asians in San Francisco’s Chinatown area, officials say; upon confronting the man – identified by police as Gerardo Contreras, 33 – the officer attempted to detain him, at this time the encounter turned ugly.
As shown in surveillance video from a nearby business, the officer is seen ordering Contreras to put his hands on his head and to face away from her, which the suspect initially complies with; however, he then turns back to face her after she asks if he has any weapons and proceeds to attack the officer, forcing her to the ground while first appearing to attempt to choke her and then striking her in the face.
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A bystander quickly jumps into the fray and attempts to pull Contreras off of the officer, and is quickly joined by several other people who quickly subdue the assailant and roll him onto his stomach so the officer can handcuff him. At that time, backup arrives – as captured by an onlooker on their cell phone – as several other cops swarm the suspect, bringing the incident to a conclusion.
Police have yet to say if the attack is being investigated as a hate crime, due to the alleged racial threats against Asians that Contreras – who appears to have mental health issues, according to local area residents – was making.
The assaulted officer – who the San Francisco Police Officers Association (SFPOA) said was working alone because of a staffing shortage – suffered a bloody nose and minor injuries, reports say.
“We’ve seen a rise in violent attacks by homeless individuals, including attacks on police officers,” the SFPOA said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful to these citizens who rushed to our officer’s aide.”