Officer hospitalized after violent encounter at Hemet Applebee’s
HEMET — An officer was hospitalized and will be off duty for at least a few days after a routine annoyance and trespassing call at a Hemet restaurant turned into an extremely violent struggle Friday evening, Dec. 21. During the incident, which happened at Applebee’s at 2515 W. Florida Ave., a transient physically attacked an officer, punching him in the face, and then fought with the officer after attempting to flee on foot. The unprovoked attack led to a large law enforcement response after the injured officer radioed that he was involved in the fight just outside the restaurant.
Last night’s incident involved the second Hemet police officer injured in the line of duty within a two-hour period. The other officer was injured while thwarting an attempted escape from Hemet Jail. The parolee who tried to escape from the jail facility had been arrested several hours earlier after snatching a woman’s purse while she shopped at Hemet’s Lowes.
LEADING THE RCNS HEADLINES:
Last night’s Applebee’s incident began shortly before 10 p.m., when the City’s Communications Center received a 911 call from the restaurant reporting a man who was loitering in and around the business. According to the 911 caller, the man was bothering employees and customers and although restaurant management had asked the man to leave the business, he refused.
When an officer arrived at the restaurant he found 23-year-old, transient, Hassan Shawn Ephriam Jr., still inside the business’s lobby area, Hemet Police Lt. Nate Miller later told RCNS, saying Ephriam was “doing push-up’s and acting erratically.”
The officer asked Ephriam to accompany him outside and the man initially complied with the officer’s orders. However, after following the officer outside the restaurant to the parking lot, the incident quickly turned violent.
At some point during the ensuing fracas Ephriam managed to punch the officer in the face and attempted to flee on foot. During the violent struggle between the two men, the bloodied and injured officer managed to deploy his Taser, which seemingly had no effect on the violently struggling man.
As the officer attempted to gain control over Ephriam he put out an emergency broadcast for priority assistance. The officer’s call for help brought officers and deputies from within and around the city flooding into the restaurant’s parking lot with lights flashing and sirens blaring. With help from responding officers, Ephriam was eventually overpowered and subdued.
Firefighters and paramedics soon arrived at the scene and began evaluating and treating the bloodied officer before AMR transported him to Hemet Valley Hospital with another officer on board with him.
“The officer was treated and will be out for several days, per doctor’s orders,” according to Miller, who did not specify the full nature or extent of the officer’s injuries.
Jail records indicate Epriam was eventually booked into Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of battery against a peace officer, a felony, as well as resisting arrest with violence, and resisting or obstructing an officer, which are both misdemeanors. He remains in custody on $20,000 bail.
“Our officers have enough on their plates without these jerks making it harder,” Hemet resident Dolores Vatier-Ahern later said of the violent incident that sent the officer to the hospital.
Vatier-Ahern, who said she was once married to a law enforcement officer and understands better than most “everything officers go through,” thanked the officers for their diligence and said she would be praying not just for the injured officer, but “for all our HPD officers.”
Anyone with further information related to this incident or who witnessed the attack and has not yet provided a statement is encouraged to contact Hemet PD at (951) 765-2400. Callers can refer to incident file number 18-12336 and can remain anonymous.
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Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.