Columbia, SC – A homeless man who helped a female Columbia police officer arrest a combative suspect on Tuesday said he knew things were “going to get ugly” if he didn’t intervene.
Cray Turmon, 50, came to the aid of Officer Ashley Hardesty, 27, when he witnessed the officer in a physical altercation with a male suspect who was much larger than her, The State reported.
Officer Hardesty had confronted the suspect, 39-year-old Donald Brown, after he punched another woman in the face inside the gas station, and threatened her and another person with a knife.
By the time Turmon came upon the scene, the fight between Brown and Officer Hardesty was well underway. She had already used a Taser and pepper spray against Brown, but could not subdue him.
Another bystander used his cell phone to record the altercation, which took place in the store parking lot.
Turmon said his reaction was instinctive – he knew he had to tackle the man and take control of the situation.
“I had tunnel vision,” Turmon told WACH.
“She’s a woman slammed to the ground and she’s an officer…I saw her belongings hit the ground,” he said. “She done did everything she could…It was going to get ugly, ya know? Something had to be done.”
“I needed someone to assist me to get him on the ground,” Officer Hardesty told The State on Wednesday.
Turmon lowered his shoulder and barreled into Brown’s midsection, knocking him to the ground.
“I didn’t see him coming,” Officer Hardesty said, recalling the moment Turmon intervened. “I thought, ‘Is that a cop? That’s awesome. Oh, it’s not a cop.’
“He tackled him and actually held him – just like he was playing football,” she said. “He changed the situation altogether. He, basically, ended it.”
Turmon then stepped aside while Officer Hardesty placed Brown in handcuffs.
“It’s kind of ironic,” he later told The State. “I actively helped a police officer even though I’ve been in trouble with them. I don’t know. I just felt like I had to step in.”
Turmon said he had been staying at the Transition shelter for several months, and that he has been working to rebuild his life and maintain his sobriety.
“It’s time to put my big-boy pants on and stop running away,” he said.
CPD Chief Skip Holbrook presented Turmon with “a few tokens of appreciation” on Wednesday, according to a CPD Facebook post.
“Often times, when you least expect it, an invaluable gift comes when you need it the most,” the post read.
“I’m an ex-criminal, you know?” Turmon told WACH. “And it actually felt good to have the law pat me on my back.”
“Someone’s got to stand up. Someone told me if you don’t stand up for something, you’ll fall for anything. So I stood for something yesterday,” he said.
Turmon has two job interviews scheduled for Friday afternoon, The State reported.
“I don’t want handouts,” he said. “It’s all about me trying to work and earn my own money.”
Brown has been charged with attempted murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, and resisting arrest, the CPD said in a press release.
A judge denied his request for bail on Wednesday morning, WACH reported.