EMERYVILLE, Calif. (KTVU) - An off-duty officer was attacked by a group of teens on Friday in Emeryville after a woman accused them of stealing her cellphone.
Surveillance video of the incident shows the off-duty California Highway Patrol officer trying to intervene and help the woman whose phone had been stolen at Bay Street.
The officer, who wanted to be identified only as Greg B., said the incident should have never escalated.
"It was a melee. It was chaotic. It was a really scary situation," he said. "It should have never gotten to this point."
The officer said he tried to run away from his attackers, but they surrounded him. He was beaten and choked almost to the point of unconsciousness.
"But I know that when I let him go, he's going to swing at me. And I let him go. I push him and sure enough, he turns around and swings at me," Greg B. explained. "I back up and that's when one of his friends came up behind me and struck me in the back of the head."
It all started when the woman seen in the video wearing a white jacket goes up to the group, accusing one of them of taking her cellphone minutes earlier.
Emeryville Police Detective Jaime Pardo said, "She confronted them asking for her phone back. During the confrontation, the juveniles got aggressive with the victim and began to assault the victim."
The officer walks up to the group after seeing the commotion.
Greg B. sid he tried to secretly take photos of the group, but a teenage girl with them noticed what he was doing.
"The group then turned toward him and became violent with him," Pardo said.
In the video, one of the teens runs at the officer and hits him. Then another boy punches him. The officer runs off but is surrounded and attacked again.
"I was exhausted afterward and mentally exhausted," Greg B said.
The officer, a former correctional officer at San Quentin Prison, said he never drew his gun. It was his girlfriend who told mall security that he was an off-duty officer.
"There was a lot of restraint that had to be practiced. And I had to do my best to stay in the moment" he recalled.
The officer suffered a concussion, a broken finger and bruises. He said the incident was the third time he's had to step in and help someone at Bay Street.
"I think this just came down to me not being able to look away and let this happen," he said. "I saw this young lady and she was going to be in a very bad situation."