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Bystanders Put Suspect In Chokehold As He Grabs Cop’s Gun

Modesto, CA – A group of Good Samaritans jumped in to help a Modesto police officer who was fighting for his life against a suspect who was trying to steal his duty weapon on Tuesday afternoon.

The incident occurred as the officer was responding to a report of a potential vehicle burglary outside the Star Food & Liquor Store on Yosemite Boulevard on May 25, The Modesto Bee reported.

The officer made contact with the suspect, 31-year-old Daniel Steffens, who initially appeared to be cooperative and compliant with him, security footage showed.

But when the officer went to take Steffens into custody, the suspect went on the fight.

Police said Steffens tried to take the officer’s Taser and duty firearm during the violent brawl that ensued, KOVR reported.

The video showed the officer and the suspect as they fell to the pavement.

Bystanders heard the officer screaming for help and immediately rushed to his aid.

“His holster was actually hanging down and he had broken two of the safety restraints that keep someone from taking an officer’s gun,” witness Mark Davis told KOVR.

The video showed a woman and two men jumping into the fray and grabbing Steffens’ arms and legs.

“There was an officer and three others,” Davis told KOVR. “This girl puts him in a chokehold and that’s what it took to take the guy down and to help that officer.”

The Good Samaritans pulled the suspect’s hand away from the officer’s gun, Davis explained.

“Each person had a limb, holding him down,” he said. “I don’t know if the officer would have gone home to his family that night if that guy would’ve been able to get his gun.”

Modesto Police Department (MPD) spokesperson Sharon Bear said Steffens’ attempt at stealing the officer’s gun was nearly successful.

Bear confirmed that Steffens was able to get past three safety mechanisms and had the officer’s gun “partially out of the holster,” but said the officer was able to keep ahold of the suspect’s hand so he couldn’t fully gain control of the weapon, according to The Modesto Bee.

Steffens, who had blood on his face and head by the end of the fight, was ultimately arrested on charges of attempting to take a firearm while resisting arrest, attempted murder, and resisting arrest, KOVR reported.

He is being held on $1 million bail.

The officer suffered bruises as a result of the attack but is otherwise doing well, KOVR reported.

Steffens and the officer were both treated for minor injuries at the hospital, according to The Modesto Bee.

Bear said the MPD is grateful for the Good Samaritans’ willingness to help an officer who was being violently attacked.

“We just want to say ‘Thank you,’” she said, according to KOVR. “We appreciate you assisting our officer, helping keep him safe and our community. We don’t know what kind of tragedy could have occurred.”

You can see video of the incident below:

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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