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3 drivers come to aid of CHP officer during fight with suspect on freeway

Everardo Navarro was driving his Tesla along Main Street in Santa Ana, headed to a personal-development seminar, when he noticed a California Highway Patrol officer directing a man to walk away from the entrance to an on-ramp to the 5 Freeway.

Navarro, 42, of Los Angeles watched on Friday, May 19, just after 5 p.m., as the man began walking away — but soon returned and attempted to grab at the officer’s motorcycle, he recalled on Wednesday, May 24.

When he saw the confrontation turn into a fight — and the officer pinned to the ground — he got out of his car.

“In that moment, I just ran toward the officer and I punched the (suspect) in the ribs, but it seemed like he didn’t even feel it,” Navarro said. “I was more concerned about the guy grabbing the officer’s gun and shooting him.”

Everardo Navarro, 42, of Los Angeles, was one of three men who helped a California Highway Patrol officer get a suspect into custody during a physical fight in Santa Ana, May 19. (Courtesy of Everardo Navarro) (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Navarro said he took hold of the suspect’s right hand. A second man hopped out of his vehicle and arrived to help wrestled the suspect off of the officer and pinned him down.

A third man got out of his vehicle and showed up, too, holding the suspect’s legs.

The officer then placed handcuffs on the 34-year-old suspect, who was arrested on suspicion of assault and battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest, said Anselmo Templado, a CHP officer and spokesman.

It all started with two officers dispatched to the scene — the man was yelling at passing motorists and attempting to remove a freeway sign, Templado said. The officers talked with the man, who was cooperative, and let him off with a verbal warning. They told him to stay clear of the freeway and the on-ramp.

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One officer responded to another call, and the man began walking way.

But when the one motorcycle officer hopped back onto his bike, the man returned — leading to the fight.

“It was a mostly peaceful encounter,” Templado said. “It wasn’t until (the officer) decided to get back on the motorcycle that things changed. …

“We just want to give a huge thank you to the three good people who put themselves in harm’s way to help our officer.”

The suspect had just been released from jail a day before the attack, inmate records show. He was back in jail after Friday’s arrest on a $10,000-plus bail.

Navarro said he had some fear when running to the officer and the suspect — not knowing what to expect. He was relieved when the other two men joined in to help.

“My first reaction was I have to help,” Navarro said. “That was my immediate reaction.”

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