An Erie County Sheriff’s deputy had to fight off a couple and a pit bull during a recent traffic stop, leading to attempted murder charges against a 22-year-old man.
Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard says Thursday that Sammy Abdellatif had Deputy Jason Clark in a chokehold Wednesday night when a passer-by stopped to help the officer, who Howard says was also being attacked by Abdellatif’s girlfriend and the dog.
“The passenger had applied a chokehold to the deputy and as the deputy was losing consciousness, a good Samaritan named Peter O’Brien stopped, and as a result of his interaction, we have no doubt, saved the deputy’s life,” Howard said during a press conference.
The incident began around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday when Deputy Clark was investigating an unrelated suspicious vehicle report at a hotel on East River Road. During his investigation, a vehicle drove back and forth by the scene, at least twice, with the passenger shouting threats and obscenities at Deputy Clark.
The Deputy cleared the suspicious person’s call and performed a traffic stop on the vehicle from which the threats originated. During the traffic stop, Deputy Clark identified the person making the threats as Sammy Abdellatif. When the Deputy attempted to arrest Abdellatif on disorderly conduct charges, Abdellatif rolled up the window nearly trapping the Deputy’s hand; the Deputy was forced to break the vehicle’s window to prevent being trapped between the glass and the vehicle.
Abdellatif exited the vehicle and immediately began physically and violently assaulting Deputy Clark. The driver, identified as Brittany Ashley-Graser, exited the vehicle and jumped on the back of the Deputy.
As the Deputy attempted to gain control of Abdellatif and fight off Ashley-Graser, a pit bull exited the vehicle and was aggressive toward the Deputy. At this point Peter O’Brien a civilian passer-by stopped and engaged the assailants freeing Deputy Clark from Abdellatif’s choke hold; O’Brien was then attacked by the dog.
O’Brien was able to pull Abdellatif away but was attacked by the pit bull in the process. O’Brien was not seriously injured, and only sustained minor injuries to his hand.
“Were it not for the actions of Mr. O’Brien, this very easily could have ended with another dead police officer,” said District Attorney Michael Flaherty.
A second deputy, Nick Coniglio, arrived on the scene and, with his gun drawn, was able to get Abdellatif into custody, but only after the suspect violently resisted, kicking Coniglio as he tried to bring the suspect into a patrol car.
Abdellatif, 22 of Grand Island, was charged with attempted murder and is held at the Erie County Holding Center pending his arraignment in Grand Island Town Court.
Brittany Ashley-Graser, 21 of Grand Island, was arrested and charged with felony assault, obstruction of governmental administration, and resisting arrest and is held at the holding center pending her arraignment.
Deputy Clark was taken to Erie County Medical Center for serious but non-life-threatening injuries and was released Thursday morning.