A video of bystanders intervening as a California traffic cop is being choked in a headlock during an altercation has gone viral on social media.
The incident took place on May 19 around 5 p.m. at the Main Street northbound entrance to the Santa Ana Freeway (Interstate 5), according to a KTLA 5 report.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers regularly interact with the public and motorists to ensure the safety and security of everyone by enforcing the Californian vehicle code. While the exact details of the incident have not been confirmed, according to an ABC 7 report, the CHP officer was giving the man a verbal warning for bending freeway signs, prior to the altercation.
The clip was first posted on May 23 by the Twitter page PPV-TAHOE-News Journalist but went viral after being shared by the Twitter page Big Dave. It has so far been viewed more than 1 million times. The footage showed Anselmo Templado, a CHP officer, speaking to a man on the street while walking to his patrol vehicle before the situation escalated into a fight.
The pair then wrestle each other to the ground before the CHP officer is put into a headlock. Seconds later, a man runs into the view of the camera and begins attacking the man to save Templado. Other members of the public then attempt to intervene to stop the fight and protect the officer. After Templado is freed from the headlock, he and the members of public restrain the man.
The first bystander to intervene in the altercation was identified as Everardo Navarro and he has spoken about what was going through his mind seconds before he engaged.
Speaking to ABC 7, he said: “I was just assuming the officer was making an arrest in the moment.”
Navarro added: “When I actually got there, for a split second I didn’t know what to do. I just punched the guy in the ribs.”
Navarro also held back tears as he reflected on the multiple ways the situation could have gone wrong. He said the possible negative outcomes dawned on him later on in the day, especially since, in the worst-case scenario, he would be leaving behind his children. Navarro said he left his car to intervene to help Templado but was happy that the situation ended with both the suspect and officer being safe.
The CHP public information officer praised Navarro and the other bystanders for their quick thinking and bravery, saying: “It is not very often that you see something like that.
“Usually, it is just people recording it and standing by, but I just want to thank those three good Samaritans for helping out our officer,” the spokesperson added.
The bystanders also received praise on social media as many gave thanks to the group of men intervening. Twitter user Jesse Sherrill wrote: “Only way to fix these problems is with the people. For the people. By the people.”
User Jskitt2 added: “The bystanders are patriotic individuals working hard to ensure the safety and security of our country.”
The man who was fighting with Officer Templado was arrested and charged with assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest.
Newsweek has contacted California Highway Patrol via email for comment.
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