Bystanders come to aid of ambushed Polk deputy
WINTER HAVEN (FOX 13) - Three men, all strangers, couldn't drive by a Polk County sheriff's deputy in need of help Sunday morning.
"I saw a motorcycle officer pull over a guy," recalled George Cooper.
Cooper was going to breakfast when Deputy Walsh stopped Corey Johnson. Johnson had just blown through a stop sign and almost hit the deputy.
Cooper wasn't expecting what happened next.
"The guy slammed the door out on the deputy and then jumped at him and just started wailing and hitting him across the head and just beating him," said Cooper.
The two were in the roadway at Winter Lake Road at Camellia Road in Winter Haven.
Cooper didn't let a torn ACL stop him from running to help.
"I wasn't thinking about my safety. I was thinking about helping him. The boy was all over him straddling him beating him, he snatched his radio and took it," continued Cooper.
Cooper said Johnson continued reaching for the deputy's gun belt. He eventually got Johnson off the deputy and he ran off.
"I wasn't going to let him beat that officer. Because hey, he is a man just like I am. He has children, he has a wife and a family. I want him to go home to his family like I go home to his family," said Cooper.
Cooper wasn't the only one who stopped.
"I just stopped my truck in the middle of the road," said Antonio Velazquez.
Velazquez, Cooper, and a third good Samaritan rushed to stop Johnson and help Deputy Walsh.
"I just knew I had to help him because he was in trouble already," said Velazquez.
Velazquez caught up to Johnson.
"I kicked him and he fell down and when I tried to grab him I fell down with him," continued Velazquez.
The three men worked together until other deputies showed up and arrested Johnson.
It is a moment they will never forget, but one they would repeat in a heartbeat.
"It doesn't matter what your color is, your race, or your creed. He is a police officer. He is supposed to help us. That is just their job," said Cooper.
Johnson has been arrested seven times in the past. He is now facing several new charges including aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, and driving while license suspended or revoked.
Deputy Walsh is recovering. He had several cuts and bruises, along with a broken thumb.