The Asian officer responded to a call about an individual who was making racially motivated threats. The suspect was identified by police as Gerardo Contreras, 33, according to reports.
Surveillance video shows the officer ordering the man in the video to put his hands on his head. The man appears to comply, but when asked if he had any weapons in his possession, he becomes violent, the video appears to show.
The man in the video appears to overpower the officer and wrestles her to the ground. Bystanders rush in to assist the officer.
“He’s a big guy, he was not letting go. He had a death grip on her. And he was not letting go,” says Michael Waldorf, who had just finished eating dinner with his family when he jumped in to help, according to San Francisco’s KGO-TV. “I saw it as an emergency. She needed our help and she needed it right away.”
Waldorf was one of several bystanders who jumped into action. The officer was able to regain control and backup arrived soon after.
The officer, who has yet to be identified, suffered a bloody nose and minor injuries, according to KGO-TV.
The attack is currently under investigation. Police have yet to say whether it will be investigating as a hate crime.
Community activist Max Leong told FOX 2 that people in that area of the city know Contreras and that he appears to have mental health issues.
“He’s been kind of a fixture here in San Francisco Chinatown,” Leong said. “It speaks to the fact more services need to be provided for the mentally ill.”
The San Francisco Police Officers Association tweeted their appreciation for the bystanders who jumped in to help rescue the officer.
“We’ve seen a rise in violent attacks by homeless individuals, including attacks on police officers,” the union wrote. “We are deeply grateful to these citizens who rushed to our officer’s aide. Our staffing shortage left this officer working alone instead of with a partner.”