After a Colorado police officer stopped to assist a man who appeared to be a stranded driver early Monday, the motorist sliced the officer's head open, stole his patrol car and led police on a high-speed pursuit.
Aurora Police Chief Nicholas Metz, who described the attack as "unprovoked" and "vicious," distributed a close-up photo Monday of the officer's bloodied head, showing a deep, long cut stretched along his forehead and scalp.
"When you see what's happening around the country, when you see what happened in Colorado Springs, our officers every single day are responding to very hazardous kinds of situations," Metz said, apparently referring to the death of an officer during a siege by a gunman at a Planned Parenthood clinic Friday.
Colorado Cop Attacked While Helping Stranded DriverDec. 1, 201513:09
He said it was "really important" to show the results of such situations, adding: "I have absolutely no qualms in believing that this suspect meant to kill our officer."
Police said the officer — who was not identified — initially called in a "citizen's assist" at 3:43 a.m. after spotting a vehicle just south of downtown Aurora. As the officer was returning to his car, the assailant, who was also not identified, "tackled him from behind and struck him with a sharp object," Lt. Scott Torpen told reporters at the news conference.
"Honestly, we have no idea why this attack took place," Torpen said. "There was no reason for it. Our officer simply stopped to help a citizen out, to render aid."
The assailant jumped in the officer's vehicle and — with its emergency lights still blaring — took off. Despite his injuries, Torpen said, the officer fired unsuccessfully at the fleeing attacker; then he provided responding officers with directions.
"Numerous" patrol cars responded, Torpen said, chasing the stolen police car down snow-covered roads at 65 mph. Eventually, one of the officers "made contact" with the stolen patrol car, Torpen said, causing it to spin out.
The driver fled the car with an object in his right hand. Torpen said it's unclear what that object was, but he was ordered "numerous times to give up, to stop, to put his hands up."
"He did not comply with those orders," Torpen said.
Police fired several rounds at the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
The officer remained in a hospital with "a very serious head injury," Metz said.