Questions surround distressed motorist's attack on officer
SMITHS STATION, AL (WTVM) -
A Lee County report reveals new details about an incident where a Columbus Police officer said he was ambushed on his way to work by two men pretending to have car trouble.
It's the second time this summer the officer said he has been attacked near his home in Smiths Station.
The officer said two men planned a surprise attack on him while he was in uniform, where they disarmed and injured him, then escaped without a trace.
The plot involved huge risks, but somehow, the officer said the attackers pulled it off two times in a row.
People in the neighborhood who heard the story said their first reaction was that this must be an act of retaliation related to the officer's line of work.
"...somebody he arrested and caused trouble, and they were getting back at him," said Tony Loe.
Loe and his wife, Rita, live directly across from the place where the officer said he was attacked Wednesday morning. Neither one was awakened by the commotion outside. They believe the attackers needed to be very familiar with the officer's habits and routine to be successful.
"For him to go down this road, as opposed to another road right up the street, they had to know where he was going and what time," said Rita Loe.
The officer said he was on his way to work in his personal vehicle when a man standing next to a red Crown Victoria flagged him down and asked if he had jumper cables.
As the officer was retrieving his cables, he said a second man rushed him.
The officer said he grabbed his gun, but it was knocked from his hand. He said both suspects wrestled with him and shoved a towel in his mouth to keep him from yelling.
The Lee County report quotes the attackers saying "I guess you did not learn your lesson from the first time" and repeating "thug life, thug life."
The same officer told authorities two months ago that he was attacked while responding to an unknown person's call for help outside his house. In both attacks, the officer sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
WTVM spoke to a former police officer who now works for Professional Legal Services and Investigations in Columbus. He's not involved in the above-mentioned case, but based on what he's read about this incident, he said he still has a few questions. We're withholding his identity to prevent compromising his undercover work.
"He was on his way to work, so he was in his personal vehicle. Why did he stop? I understand being flagged down, but if you're going to work, you've got to be there by a certain time," said the investigator.
He said the Columbus Police Department is very strict about punctuality. Being late just one time could result in an immediate suspension. We asked him if he's ever heard of a police officer being successfully attacked two times in a short period.
"Anybody can be ambushed. If you're caught unawares, then you're caught unawares. But if we're talking about this officer and the same people, that's definitely a pattern that he's involved with them somehow, or it didn't happen at all."
We put the investigator's questions to the Lee County Sheriff's department, the Columbus Police, and the officer who said he was attacked, but they all declined to comment, citing the open investigation.
Although the private investigator is skeptical about the details, one part that gives him pause is the fact that the officer was stabbed in the shoulder. He said stabbing oneself for the sake of corroborating a made-up story seems pretty extreme. That's why he thinks it's possible that someone really did attack the officer. But it's his opinion that the events did not unfold exactly as described.