AVENTURA (CBSMiami) – An Aventura police officer is recovering after investigators say he was attacked outside a popular shopping center by a man trying to get his hands on the officer’s gun.
Investigators credit an off-duty firefighter with assisting the officer and possibly preventing a tragedy.
Aventura Police released grainy, distant surveillance that detectives and witnesses say shows a violent confrontation that left Aventura Police Officer Michael Bentolila with a knee injury.
Court video of suspect Jeremy Kaiser from Friday afternoon showed Kaiser with a bandaged head and cuts and scrapes on his face. Kaiser is being held on $10,000 bond and faces four felony charges, including battery on a law enforcement officer and theft of a firearm.
Police say Bentolila was patrolling the Aventura Commons Shopping Center during an off-duty detail Thursday night when a report came in of suspicious man inside the Whole Foods Market.
Investigators say Kaiser immediately became angry at the officer, “yelling and waving balled fists,” according to the police report.
Off duty firefighter Regainne Georges says he saw the confrontation escalate and watched the officer deploy a taser on Kaiser but nothing happened.
“Absolutely nothing,” Georges said. “The guy just rushed like a bull even harder.”
Georges said Kaiser was relentless.
“The aggressor kept at him,” Georges said. “Next thing you knew the cop was on the ground and the guy was on top of him pummeling him.”
That’s when Georges said he rushed to help.
“I just jumped on top of the guy, grabbed his arm and the cop was saying that, ‘”He’s trying to grab my gun, he’s trying to grab my gun,” Georges explained.
Police say Kaiser punched the officer repeatedly, ripped his radio off his shoulder and nearly opened the officer’s gun holster.
Georges says he struggled with Kaiser and managed to hold him until police arrived. Investigators say if it had not been for the off-duty firefighter there might have been a tragic outcome.
“A very heartfelt thanks to the firefighter for getting involved and for potentially saving our officer’s life,” said Aventura Sgt. Chris Goranitis.
Georges says he is taught through his training to help those in need and he is proud that he might have saved a fellow public servant.
“Before the police officer was taken off he called me over, gave me a big handshake, (saying) “Oh my God, thank you so much. You saved my life,’” Georges said.
Police say Officer Bentolila is at home recovering. He will miss time from work while he recuperates from his injuries.