SAN FRANCISCO - A suspect accused of attacking a San Francisco police officer after she tried to detain him in Chinatown has been identified as 33-year-old Gerardo Contreras.
The officer, who is assigned to Central Station, is "highly trained as anybody else," said Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association.
But the officer, whose name hasn't been released, was overpowered by Contreras just before 7 p.m. Friday near Clay and Kearny streets.
"Things can go from OK to really bad in a split second," Montoya said.
It began innocently enough.
Less than two hours before the attack, witnesses said the suspect was damaging some scooters near Portsmouth Square. Officers then arrived and told him to leave.
According to reports, the suspect had been ranting at Asian people.
The female officer who responded usually has a partner, but she was working solo because of a staffing shortage, according to the police union.
When the officer arrived, she had a "less-than-lethal" beanbag shotgun slung around her shoulder. She told Contreras to stop. Surveillance footage recorded the encounter.
"I don't have nothing," he said.
"Turn around, all the way around put your hands on top of your head," the officer tells him.
The suspect initially obeys the officer. But without warning, "he just suddenly turned and violently attacked her without provocation," Montoya said.
The officer ended up on her back as the 190-pound Contreras straddled her, according to police.
"He quickly put himself on top of the officer and put himself in a position of advantage and, at one point, it looked like his hands were actually on her throat," Montoya said.
Bystanders rushed to help.
"I want to shake their hands, I want to commend them for their bravery and their actions," Montoya said.
The officer regained control and backup soon arrived.
The officer, who is Asian, was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. She was released that same day.
"She's at home recovering. She's got some scrapes, bruises, obviously sore from the incident," Montoya said. "If this happens to a uniformed San Francisco police officer, how should your average resident, visitor, tourist feel? They should be concerned," Montoya said.