An Escalon police officer is recuperating from injuries Tuesday following an altercation last weekend with a man suspected of driving while intoxicated, authorities said.
Saturday morning at 2:20, officer Robert Lackey of the Escalon Police Department responded to a call of a man driving recklessly in the 1700 block of Emperor Court, according to Sgt. Dustin Brookshire.
Lackey spotted the car matching witness descriptions near Brennan Road and California Street.
After stopping the car, the officer tried to take the driver, Joshua Watkins, 25, of Manteca, into custody.
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While trying to handcuff him, a struggled ensued and Lackey was hit in the face and head, Brookshire said. Lackey wrestled him to the ground, but Watkins was able to kick the patrolman and escape on foot.
Officers from the Ripon and Manteca police departments as well as the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department were called in to help Lackey.
Watkins fled to a nearby orchard, and the injured officer gave chase. Lackey tried to use his Taser to subdue Watkins, but its probes got tangled in thick vegetation and never made contact, Brookshire said.
Lackey, who suffered a leg injury, was taken to Oak Valley Hospital.
About 3½ hours after the incident, Watkins was found by a Manteca officer in an orchard west of Jack Tone Road and south of Highway 120. He said he sustained injuries when he said he was hit by a passing motorist.
He was admitted into San Joaquin County Hospital for treatment and will be turned over to Escalon police when released.