Suspect knocks Calif. cop unconscious, goes for gun

The incident has also opened up — again — a call by the police union for officers to be issued stun guns

By Kristin J. Bender
The Oakland Tribune

BERKELEY, Calif.  A man who knocked a police officer unconscious after punching and kicking him in the head and then trying to grab his loaded gun was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder Monday, police said.

The incident has also opened up  again  a call by the police union for officers to be issued stun guns. Berkeley and San Francisco remain the only police departments in the Bay Area that don't arm their officers with the devices.

Carlos Alberto Delagarza, 43, was arrested after the short struggle on Bolivar Drive along Aquatic Park, adjacent to Interstate Highway 80. He remains in custody without bail at the Berkeley City Jail after being released from a hospital with minor injuries.

"This was an extremely brutal attack," said Berkeley Police union President Chris Stines, adding that the officer, on the force for a decade, is now "doing well" despite "fairly severe" injuries. His name was not released. He will be on leave until at least the end of this week, Stines said.

Police were originally called about 10:30 a.m. Monday for a report that Delagarza, who police said has a history of mental health issues, was trying to start a fire. In an odd twist, the officer who was assaulted by Delagarza has worked to develop programs for the mentally ill in Berkeley and has done street counseling with many mentally ill people over the years, Stines said.

While the officer recovers, the incident has renewed a call for stun guns within a department that has never had them and has been continuously stonewalled by Berkeley's nine-member Police Review Commission for at least the past 15 years, said Stines.

Over the past six months, police have to responded to at least two different calls of men, armed with knives and trying to hurt themselves or others, who could have been subdued with stun guns, Stines said.

Berkeley police also do not have police dogs, a helicopter or armored vehicles, he added.

After the officer was knocked unconscious, he came to and found the suspect trying to remove his gun from its holster. Police said Delagarza then took off running and jumped in the water at Aquatic Park. Several officers got him out of the water and he was arrested, a police spokesman said.

In addition to his arrest on suspicion of attempted homicide and felony battery against an officer, Delagarza is being held on suspicion of taking a firearm from a police officer, second-degree robbery and battery with serious bodily injury.

Copyright 2014 The Oakland Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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