Man Accused of Stabbing Firefighters Said He Was Afraid

The man accused of stabbing two firefighters downtown last June took the stand Thursday, telling the jury he feared for his life when he pulled out his knife and attacked Ben Vernon and Alex Wallbrett.

The firefighters were responding to a call for medical aid for a person down at Park and Market on June 24 last year.

Earlier this week, the jury heard heartfelt testimony from those two firefighters who were attacked in the line of duty.

Vernon and Wallbrett testified about how the stabbing took not just a physical toll but how they have suffered emotionally since the assault.

Remarkably, both said it was not being able to protect each other that was the unbearable part of that day.

Prosecutors say body camera footage shows Vernon backing away with his hands up as Ryan Jones stabs him.

The defense has argued that video evidence shows San Diego Fire Captain Steven Michaels made the first physical contact, shoving Jones over a bench.

The fire captain testified he felt threatened while trying to save the patient.

Jones testified Thursday he was pepper-sprayed by MTS officers at the scene, leaving his vision very cloudy and then his survival instincts took over.

“I was thinking that these guys were just going to jump all over me with batons, pepper spray. They had guns. I didn’t know what they were going to do. I had no idea,” Jones testified. “Okay, I’m going to defend myself. I’m going to do whatever I have to do. I’m not going to be a statistic. I’m not going to die today. That’s the attitude and approach that I had that day.”

A forensics behavioral scientist testified the firefighters were not acting within the scope of their duties concerning their dealings with Jones.

Dr. Thomas Streed, a former Sheriff’s homicide detective, testified the firefighters broke protocol by not standing back for San Diego police once Jones became difficult at the medical aid call.

Both the defense and prosecution are scheduled to present their closing arguments Monday and turn the case over to the jury.

Jones faces 25 years to life if convicted.

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