ACC police officer shares story of a violent attack and the help he got from strangers

ACC police officer Chris Hernandez was attacked at a fast food restaurant in southwest Austin.  (Photo: Bettie Cross)

An Austin Community College police officer shares his story about a violent night that sent him to the hospital. 21-year-old Cullen Martin Clouse is charged with aggravated assault. He’s accused of attacking ACC officer Chris Hernandez in a restaurant drive-thru.

“I was going to go to the Pinnacle Campus over here on 290,” said Officer Hernandez.

The 19-year veteran of the ACC police force decided to stop for tacos at a fast food restaurant at 6210 West William Cannon Drive.

“I thought it would be a quick stop,” said Officer Hernandez.

He pulled into the Jack in the Box drive-thru and within moments the manager was running toward his police car.

“She says officer, officer I have somebody I believe is drunk at my window. Would you please come help me,” said Officer Hernandez.

From that moment on, nothing about Tuesday night was routine.

“It happened so quick,” said the ACC officer.

He says he had just put handcuffs on one of the two men in the car when the other came charging at him.

“He starts to hit me like there's no tomorrow,” said Officer Hernandez. “I'm on my one knee and he starts kicking me in the face several times.”

The ACC officer needed backup and he got it from two men and a woman getting a late night snack at the restaurant.

“They came and they came at the most crucial moment when I needed help the most,” said Officer Hernandez.

The Air Force veteran says the three bystanders shouted at Cullen Martin Clouse to stop and forced him to back off.

“That guy had the better of me when I was on my knee. And them coming to my aid gave me the chance, the opportunity, to stand up and get back in it,” said Officer Hernandez. "I reset. I got back in the game and I went after him. And he's hitting me the whole time, but I'm able to get him in a headlock and I pull out my pepper spray and I let him have pepper spray."

The officer arrested Clouse. But he knows without the help of three strangers the struggle between a 21-year-old and a 61-year-old could have had a much more painful ending.

“I have three hairline fractures here,” said the officer as he pointed to his eye and cheek. “They stepped up when I needed them. My family is grateful and I'm grateful.”

Clouse is charged with aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, a first degree felony.

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