A Good Samaritan's quick thinking helped save an unconscious El Cajon police officer, repeatedly assaulted by a man now charged with attempted murder.
Iesha Booker, a San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) bus driver, was on her lunch break inside an El Cajon KFC restaurant on Fletcher Parkway around 10 a.m. Monday when police first approached a man in the restaurant.
The suspect, later identified as 42-year-old Daniel Cook, was a suspect in a nearby robbery case at the Dollar Tree down the street.
Without a word, Booker recalled, Cook started attacking the El Cajon police officer.
The people inside the restaurant sat paralyzed with fear as the suspect repeatedly punched the officer in the face, knocking him to the ground, Booker said.
"The guy just rushed him, basically fought him and pushed him to the ground, starts slamming on his face, like really violently," Booker said.
Even when the officer, a 28-year veteran of the department, fell to the floor, Cook continued to attack him.
"He was laying on the ground, but he was trying to get up, but I seen him, just pass out," Booker said. "You could see his face swelling up as minutes were going by and you could see blood everywhere. So I knew he was injured, I didn't think he was gonna make it."
Booker feared the suspect would grab the officer's gun, but that did not happen. He fled the scene.
Once the suspect walked out, Booker ran to the officer.
"He had blood all over his face, I just grabbed his walkie talkie, I didn't know how to work it, I just grabbed it and just screaming in there, they have an officer down, they have an officer down, and was hoping that they heard me," she recalled.
Booker said she does not consider herself a hero, but others disagree. The Chief of El Cajon Police met with Booker Wednesday to thank her for her actions, calling her a citizen hero.
Booker said she's just glad she could help.
"I'm glad that he's okay. I'm sorry for the things that happened," she said. "I'm glad that I was there to help and hopefully anyone who sees anything like that will step in and help, and I just did the best I can, the only thing I know I could to help him."
Booker has been homeless with her children, staying in hotels and with friends, for the past two and a half months, saving money for a new place. She really doesn't need this kind of drama right now, she said, but she's happy she could help.
Officers later apprehended Cook. 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.
The officer involved suffered serious head trauma and remains in the hospital.
Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to call the El Cajon Police Department at 619-579-3311.