BREMERTON, Wash. – The incident was caught on cellphone video; investigators say it shows a violent felon attacking a Bremerton police officer.
Police Chief Steve Strachan said it could have turned into a deadly altercation had an innocent bystander not stepped in to help officer Spencer Berntsen.
Multiple cellphone cameras captured the moment when the physical altercation broke out.
“I didn’t realize what had fully happened until I watched the videos,” said Berntsen. “That explains why I’m so dang stiff and sore.”
The incident started as a simple disturbance call on Wednesday. Police said someone called 911 to report a man smashing a nearby restaurant window.
When Berntsen showed up, the suspect acted hostile and aggressive, according to court documents.
“'Let’s go,’ that’s what he was saying to me prior to assaulting me,” said Berntsen. That’s clearly what was happening.
In a flash, Berntsen and the suspect were on the ground fighting for control. Then, out of nowhere a stranger, Kelly Bounds, showed up and hit the suspect on his head.
Strahan said it happened in the nick of time, “An officer is one blow to the head away from becoming unconscious.”
Berntsen hadn’t seen the videos until Friday. Neither had Bounds, the bystander who helped control the situation.
“You know, it was time to step up and be a part of the community and try to change things,” said Bounds. “Hopefully this guy will seek help.”
Berntsen says his Taser malfunctioned, his radio flew off his uniform and within seconds the suspect was on top of him.
Strahan says had it not been for Bounds, the situation could have turned out differently.
“It may have made the difference between life and death,” he said. “Whether it be an officer, the bystander or the suspect in this case.”
Police said the suspect is 33-year-old Kenneth Lane. He has a criminal history; now he has been arrested and charged with assault in this case.
Bounds doesn’t consider himself a hero, just a man who could help out at the right place and time.
“People’s lives were on the line,” he said.