Two bystanders saved a Fredericksburg police officer from a more severe beating early Wednesday by pulling a suspect off an officer who was being assaulted, police said Thursday.
City police spokeswoman Sarah Morris said the officer went to the Walmart parking lot in Central Park about 6:30 a.m. for a report about a suspicious person going through someone else’s vehicle.
The officer found stolen items in the man’s possession and tried to detain him, Morris said. The man began walking away from the officer, police said, then turned around and hit the officer.
According to Morris, the officer was knocked to the ground and punched several more times in the head. The bystanders pulled the suspect off the officer and he was arrested.
Joshua J. Duggins, 31, of Fredericksburg was charged with assault on a law-enforcement officer and malicious wounding. He was placed in the Rappahannock Regional Jail.
The officer, who has been on the city police force for two years, was treated at a hospital for head injuries and released.
“If the two individuals watching nearby had not selflessly taken it upon themselves to assist the officer, the injuries he sustained could have been much worse,” said Police Chief Brian Layton. “I can’t thank them enough for bravely putting themselves in danger.”
Morris said this was the third significant assault against a city police officer over the past 12 weeks. On April 24, an officer was punched in the face while trying to take someone to the hospital. On June 11, Morris said, an officer suffered a broken nose after serving a trespassing notice.
Duggins was arraigned Thursday in Fredericksburg General District Court and he has a preliminary hearing scheduled Aug. 17.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404