A Chicago police officer who was "viciously" beaten by a man allegedly under the influence of drugs said she was afraid to use her weapon because of the public scrutiny she would have faced, according to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
The officer, identified only as a 17-year veteran, was responding to a car crash in the suburban neighborhood of Austin Wednesday when the attack took place, KTLA sister station WGN in Chicago reported.
The officer tried to talk to one of the drivers involved in the crash, a 28-year-old man believed to be high on PCP, when he became violent and struggled with police, Johnson said.
While wrestling on the ground, the the man allegedly grabbed the officer's head and slammed her face into the pavement repeatedly until she lost consciousness, he said.
The attack "went on for several minutes," according to the superintendent.
The officer's partner was able to subdue the suspect using a Taser and pepper spray, according to the Chicago Tribune, but two other officers were also injured and later hospitalized following the struggle.
“As I was at the hospital last night, visiting with her, she looked at me and said she thought she was gonna die, and she knew that she should shoot this guy, but she chose not to because she didn’t want her family or the department to go through the scrutiny the next day on national news,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who was speaking at a ceremony honoring police officers and firefighters, added that he didn't know the details of the investigation and couldn't say whether or not shooting the attacker would have been justified.
"I think it's pretty apparent that it was a horrific incident," Johnson said. "Anytime you face a life-or-death situation, then you can use deadly force, because that's what he was trying to do to her."
He added it's an example of the dangers police face while doing their job.
"And because of the scrutiny going on nationwide, there (are) officers second-guessing themselves," he said. "That’s what we don’t want.”
Charges are pending against the unidentified man who is accused of attacking the officers, according to police.