Three come to officer's aid

Ben Godar

When a man being arrested for credit- card fraud assaulted a police

officer and tried to run, Steven Bowen, Peter Hong and Ryan Albala

made sure he didn't get away.

The three men, who tackled the suspect as he was attempting to run

away, were commended Tuesday by the City Council for their actions.

Bowen and Albala, who attended the meeting, received certificates of

commendation from Police Chief Thomas Hoefel and Capt. Tim Stehr for

coming to the aid of officers.

The incident occurred on a rainy afternoon in February when Jace

Smith, a 33-year-old Encino man, tried to purchase computer equipment

at PC Club, 699 N. Victory Blvd. Store officials, who became

suspicious when Smith had no identifi- cation, contacted the actual

card holder and learned the card was stolen.

When Officers Larry Hill and Bob Shults arrived, Smith acted as if

he would cooperate. But when Hill attempted to handcuff him, the

6-foot-3, 350-pound suspect pushed away and began to run. When Hill

attempted to grab him, Smith threw him onto a car, dislocating the

officer's shoulder, police said.

Bowen, the manager of PC Club, saw the scuffle and decided to

chase Smith.

"I didn't know if I should run and hide or go after the guy," he

said. "I didn't know if he was going to go for a gun or anything, but

I just wanted this thing to stop."

Bowen said he tackled Smith in front of Toys R' Us. Hong, a

salesman at PC Club, arrived shortly to help hold him down, as did

Albala, an employee of nearby Kragen Auto Parts, who saw what was

going on.

"Without their assistance, it would have been extremely difficult

to make the arrest," Shults said.

Smith, who had recently escaped from a halfway house, was arrested

and subsequently pleaded guilty to forgery and burglary charges,

police said. He was sentenced to four years in prison for those

charges and his parole violations, police added.

Hill has been unable to return to active duty as a result of the

injuries he suffered during the fight, and police said his shoulder

would require surgery.

During his 23 years with the department, he said several citizens

have assisted him in making arrests, including one instance where the

suspect had a gun.

"Whether it's a drunk or a bank robber, Burbank citizens tend to

get involved," he said.

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