A Buffalo police officer found herself in a fight for her life early Sunday inside her SUV patrol car with a man who had gone berserk on synthetic drugs, authorities said.
Moments before that encounter, the suspect, feigning injury sprawled in the middle of the intersection of Main and Barker streets, leaped into the front seat of a car driven by a man who had stopped out of concern, police said.
The motorist, who was on his way to work at about 5:30 a.m. Sunday, was armed with a pistol and shot his attacker in the hand. That enabled the motorist to drive a short distance and call 911 on his cellphone.
Central District Officer Jasmine Olmstead responded to the call and spotted a bleeding man lying in the intersection at Main and Barker.
"She drove up slowly and opened her driver's side door and called out to the man, 'Sir, are you OK?' He jumped on the hood of the patrol car and worked his way over to the open window and climbed onto her lap and started punching her and grabbing for her gun," said Central District Chief Joseph A. Gramaglia.
"She wasn't in a position to call for backup. She fought him with her left arm and was taking punches the whole time while she was protecting her gun with her right arm. The officer was in a life-and-death fight," Gramaglia said.
At the same time, the SUV Tahoe was still moving and the officer was able to somehow maneuver it to the side of the road, the chief said, adding that more than a dozen other officers arrived and the fight continued.
"Officer Olmstead fell out of the vehicle with the man still attacking her, and a brutal fight continued with the other officers trying to break it up. He was kicking other officers in the face and he tried to bite Officer Olmstead. Eventually, the other officers were able to subdue him," Gramaglia said.
At Erie County Medical Center, Elijah Davis, 20, of Buffalo, admitted to another officer and the doctor treating him that he had been smoking synthetic marijuana and had also consumed "mollies," a lesser known type of ecstasy.
Olmstead was also treated at ECMC, later released and placed on injury leave, the chief said.
Davis, who remained in police custody, was charged with felony assault of a police officer, and multiple misdemeanor charges of obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and harassment.
Homicide detectives are continuing to investigate the shooting of the suspect by the man on his way to work and the Erie County District Attorney's Office is also involved in the review, Gramaglia said.
Because of that investigation, the name of the individual, who has a valid pistol permit, has not been released.
"We're extremely proud of Officer Olmstead in showing her abilities to control the situation and end it the way it did. She went home safe this morning," Gramaglia said. "This just proves dealing with people high on synthetic drugs is very dangerous."