A Good Samaritan rushed to the side of an unconscious El Cajon police officer, using his radio to call for help, confirmed police.
The assault first happened Monday morning at approximately 10 a.m. when officers responded to a petty theft in progress at the Dollar Tree on Fletcher Parkway, near Johnson Avenue, according to El Cajon Police Lt. Rob Ransweiler.
The location is approximately a block away from the Parkway Plaza mall, north of Interstate 8.
When officers arrived, they were told the suspect - later identified as Daniel Cook - had left their store and moved to the nearby KFC Restaurant. The employees there also called the police, telling them he was stealing soda from their fountain.
One officer arrived and contacted Cook inside the restaurant.
Cook became violent, Ransweiler said, and repeatedly punched the victim officer, knocking him unconscious. Even when the officer was unconscious, Cook continued to punch the officer, officials said.
The 28-year veteran of the department was transported to the hospital with significant injuries, officials said.
Once Cook stopped assaulting the officer, an MTS employee rushed to the officer and grabbed his radio, calling for help.
"Since the downed officer was alone, it may have taken much longer to get medical aid to him if it were not for the quick thinking and willingness to get involved of this Good Samaritan," Ransweiler said in a statement.
Cook fled the scene, running away on Fletcher Parkway.
When officers found the suspect there, he ignored police commands to surrender and took a fighting stance.
Officers used an electronic control device to help take Cook into custody. At the time, he had drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine on him.
He was booked into San Diego County Jail on attempted murder of a police officer, mayhem, robbery, threat of crime with intent to terrorize, probation revocation, possession of a controlled substance and being under the influence of controlled substance charges.
Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to call the El Cajon Police Department at 619-579-3311.