Several bystanders rushed to help a lone San Francisco police officer who was being attacked by a suspect on Friday, according to the San Francisco Police Department and video of the incident.
The officer, who wasn’t named but who police identified as an Asian female, was responding to a call about a person making threats, according to a statement from the SFPD on Monday.
When the officer arrived, she made contact with the male suspect and was attempting to detain him when he attacked her, according to surveillance video that the San Francisco Police Officers Association says captured the incident. The union tweeted the video.
In the video, the suspect at first appears to be complying with the officer’s commands to turn around and put his hands above his head. The man is then seen grabbing the officer near her shoulder, and a struggle between the two ensues. Within seconds, he pushes her down and pins her to the ground.
A few seconds later, at least four civilians enter the frame and yell, “Get off of her.” They try to loosen the man’s grip on the police officer by kicking him, pulling him, and eventually rolling him off of her so he is on the ground, the video shows. About a minute after the incident began, other officers arrive on the scene to subdue the man.
The incident comes as verbal and physical assaults against Asian Americans, especially women, have been on the rise this past year. There were at least 2,410 anti-Asian hate incidents in the first three months of this year, according to a report released by Stop AAPI Hate in May.
Police said the “investigation is looking at aspects of this assault on the officer which includes a possible hate crime.”
Michael Waldorf was one of the men who tried to help, according to CNN affiliate KGO.
“It was a big guy, he was not letting go. He had a death grip on her and he was not letting go,” Waldorf told KGO. “I felt like it was an emergency. I felt like he could really do damage, you know, that – if we don’t get him off of her right away, he could do some damage.”
“I’m glad she’s okay and I appreciate her service,” he added.
SFPD said the officer was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police identified the man as 33-year-old Gerardo Contreras and said he faces numerous charges, including assault, battery, violation of civil rights and false imprisonment. It is not clear if he has a lawyer.
“Witnesses came to the aid of the officer who was assaulted but we are not confirming the number nor their actions and roles at this time, of which we are greatly appreciative,” police said in a statement.
In a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday, the San Francisco Police Officers Association said it is “deeply grateful to these citizens who rushed to our officer’s aide.”
As the investigation continues, SFPD is asking that anyone with information contact them at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411.
CNN’s Braden Walker and Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.