A civilian decided to step in and save the day when he saw a police officer in upstate New York being attacked by a couple.
Erie County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Clark was investigating a suspicious vehicle on Aug. 24 in Grand Island when a second car drove by and the passengers started yelling death threats, according to WBFO. Clark attempted to arrest the driver, 22-year-old Sammy Abdellatif, for threatening a police officer. Then, things turned violent.
“The deputy was not stalking them or following them,” Sheriff Tim Howard told WIVB. “They sought out the deputy last night, they challenge[d] the deputy, they yelled obscenities in the presence of other people, they drew the deputy’s attention last night.”
When Clark had his hand inside Abdellatif’s vehicle to retrieve his license and registration, the man quickly rolled up his window, trapping the officer’s hand. Clark had no choice but to break the window to free himself.
In the confusion, Abdellatif was able to exit the vehicle and then reportedly violently attacked the deputy. Abdellatif’s girlfriend, 21-year-old Brittany Ashley-Graser, allegedly joined in and jumped on Clark’s back. To make things worse, the couple’s pit bull got out of the vehicle and was acting aggressively toward the officer.
Abdellatif had Clark in a chokehold and the officer was beginning to lose consciousness, according to WBFO. That’s when a passing civilian, Peter O’Brien, decided he had to step in.
He was able to pull Abdellatif away, but was attacked by the pit bull in the process. O’Brien was not seriously injured, and only sustained minor injuries to his hand.
“Were it not for the actions of Mr. O’Brien, this very easily could have ended with another dead police officer,” said District Attorney Michael Flaherty.
A second officer arrived at the scene and was able to drag Abdellatif to the patrol car. Abdellatif will be charged with attempted murder while his girlfriend, Ashley-Graser, is charged with felony assault.
The pit bull has been taken to an animal shelter and it is unclear whether it will be euthanized.
At the time of the attack, Abellatif was out on bail for making threats against an officer. That officer was Clark, reports WBFO, and the threats stemmed from when Clark pulled Ashely-Graser over in July.