An erratic driver involved in a crash on Long Island late Saturday night fought with police and ultimately stabbed an officer in the leg, Suffolk County Police said Sunday.
The officer pursued the driver of a Mercedes Benz "driving erratically with no headlights" around 10:40 p.m. Saturday heading southbound on South Ocean Avenue in Patchogue, police said.
Sometime after the officer turned on his overhead lights, the driver of the Mercedes crashed into a Nissan where the roadway intersects with Brook Street.
That's when the driver, 25-year-old Jonathan Nunez, exited the vehicle and "failed to comply with the officer's commands," according to a department release.
Then Nunez and the officer became involved in a physical altercation in which Nunez stabbed the officer in the leg, police said. Other responding officers and two good Samaritans were able to subdue Nunez.
One of those witnesses was Guillermo Sandoval, a Marine veteran who rushed out of his home after he heard the Nissan crash into a tree in his lawn. Sandoval said he saw the driver asking for help, but at the same time, he saw the officer telling Nunez to stand down before they began to fight in his backyard.
"The officer was down. I saw that he had a wound, here on his leg, basically he needed help," Sandoval recalled.
He said he went back inside his home to call 911 and grab a belt to use to help stop the officer's bleeding. By the time he returned, other officers had arrived and another witness, a retired NYPD officer, had assisted the injured cop. Nunez was then taken into custody.
The officer was taken to a nearby hospital where he underwent surgery for a ruptured artery, police said. The cut was deep and it nearly cost him his life. He was last listed in critical condition.
"Officer Racioppo was critically injured last evening during a foot pursuit of a suspect in Patchogue. At the scene, fellow Suffolk County Police Officers applied a successful tourniquet, preventing further blood loss, and transported him to the hospital," Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association President Noel DiGerolamo said Sunday.
Authorities said Nunez faces charges of aggravated assault, driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest. Attorney information for Nunez was not immediately known.
The driver of the Nissan sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was also transported to a nearby hospital, police said.