"If the two individuals watching nearby had not selflessly taken it upon themselves to assist the officer, the injuries he sustained could have been much worse," said Fredericksburg Police Chief Brian Layton. "I can’t thank them enough for bravely putting themselves in danger."
The incident unfolded Wednesday on a Walmart parking lot in Fredericksburg when police were called to respond to a suspicious person rifling through another person’s car.
The responding officer found stolen goods in the man’s possession and tried to detain him, according to city police spokeswoman Sarah Morris. The man, identified as 31-year-old Joshua J. Duggins, reportedly began walking away from the officer before he turned around and punched the officer.
The cop fell to the ground, where Duggins allegedly continued landing blows.
Two Good Samaritans rushed to the officer’s assistance and pulled the suspect off the cop.
Duggins was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer and malicious wounding, and placed in the Rappahannock Regional Jail.
Fredericksburg police said the incident notches the third time in three months an officer has been attacked, including on April 24 when a cop was punched in the face while trying to take someone to the hospital.
Officers across the country have also reported being assaulted in recent months, amid Black Lives Matter and Democratic leaders calling for police departments to be defunded in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Police in Illinois released dashcam footage this week, for example, showing a suspect choking an officer during a traffic stop. While in Delaware earlier this year, one officer died after being beaten while responding to a call for help.