Bystanders help Fla. deputy beaten during traffic stop

The deputy was knocked to the ground and suspect straddled him, throwing punch after punch to the deputy's face


By Christal Hayes
Orlando Sentinel

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The Polk County Sheriff's Office is thanking three men who helped catch a suspect who they say beat up a deputy during a traffic stop, a sheriff's spokeswoman said Monday.

During a routine traffic stop Sunday morning, deputy sheriff Mike Walsh was knocked to the ground by a man and punched repeatedly, sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Horstman said. After the man, Corey Johnson, 32, took off on foot, three Good Samaritans came to the deputy's aide and helped catch Johnson.

"These three men, who do not know each other or Deputy Walsh, probably had better things to do on a Sunday morning than jump out of their cars to help catch a violent, fleeing suspect," Sheriff Grady Judd said. "We can never thank them enough for their selfless actions … you are our heroes."

Walsh was patrolling Winter Lake Road in Winter Haven when he saw a vehicle go through a stop sign, Horstman said. Walsh pulled the vehicle over on his motorcycle at around 9 a.m. but when he asked Johnson for his drivers license, Johnson got out of his car and started punching Walsh in the face and head, Horstman said.

Walsh was knocked to the ground and Johnson straddled him, throwing punch after punch to the deputy's face, Horstman said. Johnson also allegedly tried removing some of Walsh's equipment from his duty belt. Walsh was able to flip Johnson off of him and Johnson ran off, the sheriff's office said.

George Cooper, Antonio Velazquez and Christopher Carver were driving in the area and saw the attack, Horstman said.

Cooper rushed to help Walsh, who was laying in the road, and then ran after Johnson. Velazquez stopped his vehicle and tackled Johnson as he was running off. At that point, Walsh was able to get up and help capture Johnson, who was fighting with the men, Horstman said.

Carver saw the struggle and also stopped to help.

"Johnson continued to actively resist all four men's efforts to subdue him," Horstman said. "Walsh's Taser and radio microphone headset were broken during the fight. Through the efforts of the three Good Samaritans, Deputy Walsh was able to take the suspect into custody and call for backup."

Horstman said Walsh suffered a few bruises, cuts and a broken thumb from the altercation, but his motorcycle helmet deflected some of the blows to his head.

Johnson was wanted on several charges in Polk County including grand theft and robbery. He was previously booked in the Polk County Jail on seven prior occasions. He is now facing additional charges including aggravated battery on a law-enforcement officer.

Copyright 2015 The Orlando Sentinel

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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