ST. LOUIS -- What started out as a quiet night turned into a struggle for one police officer's life.
It started in St. Louis County, Missouri, around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, when the officer noticed a car headed northbound at more than 70 mph.
“I thought it was a misread at first because I usually don’t get cars that fast,” the officer told KTVI. “So I grabbed the handheld radar and I immediately turn my lights on and I spin around and catch up to him.”
The red car in the video, driven by 43-year-old Markarios Kirkwood, pulls over and stops after jumping a curb.
“At that point, I’m thinking DWI,” the officer said. “With the speed he was going and the way he stopped, I was thinking DWI the whole way through.”
In the video, the officer is seen approaching the car.
The officer said he asked Kirkwood for his driver’s license and insurance. Kirkwood complied with one and started rumbling around for the other.
“I’m looking around, still figuring out if he’s drunk or high, so I’m asking him questions,” he said.
A short time later, the officer recalled instructing Kirkwood to get out of the car for a sobriety test, and that’s when the unthinkable happened.
“I see the pocket knife and I tell him (to) pull his hands up and I see him and right there he went for it again,” he said, looking at the video.
The officer eventually got Kirkwood into a headlock, but it didn’t slow him down.
“Right here is when he reached for my gun,” he said. “I pushed his hand away with my left hand and I got my hand on the gun in the holster and he’s ripping at my hand.”
The officer said he finally put Kirkwood in handcuffs and hit his emergency call for backup.
The assault last about 2 1/2 minutes, but the officer said it felt like a lifetime.
It was difficult for the officer to watch the video, but chief Vince Delia said it was even harder for him.
“It’s very gut-wrenching to see a law enforcement officer in that situation where it can turn to deadly force at any time,” Delia said. “Our unwritten rule is ‘always make it home’ and in this case he did so, and that’s the No. 1 goal: Always make it home from the job.”
The officer walked away with some small bruises on his hands and elbows.
Kirkwood has been charged with assault and is being held on $50,000 bail. He was also out on parole for some previous charges in 2012.