RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A California Highway Patrol officer who — despite being stabbed multiple times — held onto a man who climbed onto a Highway 91 overpass in Riverside has been praised for his bravery.
CHP Sgt. Brian Gonsalves praised the courage and dedication of the officer, who is expected to recover, in apprehending the suspect before he may have jumped onto the freeway, risking the lives of motorists below.
"Our mission is to save lives and that also goes with it," Gonsalves said. "Despite what he had to endure, he continued holding onto this guy. He really went above and beyond."
The CHP declined to identify the wounded officer.
The CHP received a 911 call shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, reporting that a man was climbing the fence of the freeway overpass on La Sierra Avenue, Riverside police Sgt. David Amador said in a statement.
The first CHP officer on scene found Javier Hernandez Rios, 45, of Riverside, climbing the fence of the freeway, and tried to pull him down by his legs.
Police said Rios pulled a knife and began stabbing the officer in the eye, face and back repeatedly. The CHP officer continued to try to pull him off the fence, Amador said.
Off-duty San Bernardino County sheriff's Sgt. John Walker and an off-duty Riverside police officer, both of whom were passing by, stopped to help the injured CHP officer, who was still struggling with Rios.
Police said Rios swung the knife at the off-duty officers while he continued to fight with the CHP officer.
A second CHP officer then arrived and shot Rios with a nonlethal projectile, Amador said. Rios was arrested at the scene.
The CHP officer was hospitalized and treated for multiple stab wounds to his back, arms, face and one of his eyes. He was taken to an eye specialist at Loma Linda University Medical Center and is expected to survive. Authorities were unclear if the officer would recover from the eye injury.
Rios was briefly hospitalized after his arrest and released with minor injuries before being booked at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer, mayhem and assault with a deadly weapon on the two off-duty police officers.
The district attorney is expected to review the case next week.
Gonsalves said the wounded officer is a three-year veteran of the CHP and that it was his first position in law enforcement.
Rios was arrested in 2009 on misdemeanor spousal abuse charges. He was accused of punching his wife twice in the ear as she tried to move out, according to court records.
The charge was dismissed last year after he pleaded guilty to an infraction of disturbing the peace. He did not serve any time or pay any fine.