What the Department of Public Safety deemed the most violent assault on a police officer at NKU took place over the holiday break when a man rammed a white van into the patrol vehicle of Sgt. Jay Baker and then attacked Baker and guard John Fiasco with a four-foot long piece of wood.
The confrontation took place on the morning of Dec. 20 when Baker and Fiasco were talking at the information booth at the front of campus. Baker said a van parked by the police cruiser, and the driver yelled out of the window that he wanted to go to the airport. He kept yelling to come with him to the airport, Baker said.
At first, Baker said he ignored the man, who would later be identified as John S. O’Brien, 49, of 106 15th St. in Newport.
Baker said O’Brien then rammed his van into the police car, pushing it over the curb. Brandishing a wooden board, Baker said O’Brien mounted the top of the van and began cursing. Baker called for back up and tried to keep O’Brien under control.
“It was very weird and happened very fast,” Baker said. “I was concentrating on keeping distance between me and him before my help arrived. It was a wake up call.”
Lt. Col. Jeff Martin, assistant director of DPS, said the attack was the most serious he has seen on NKU’s campus.
“We have had people resisting arrest before, but this was an out-and-out assault,” Martin said.
Three officers responded to the scene and subdued O’Brien. When transferring O’Brien to the police car, Baker and officer Glen Erck received minor cuts and were treated at St. Luke Hospital-East.
Since taken into custody, O’Brien has been housed at the Psychiatric Ward in St. Luke Hospital-West to undergo evaluation.
Carl Mullen, police chief of Highland Heights, which is conducting the investigation of the incident, said the officers used appropriate force.
Mullen said O’Brien is being charged with one count of second-degree criminal assault, two counts of first-degree attempted assault, two counts of third-degree assault and one count of misdemeanor criminal assault.
The first degree criminal assault carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison. Mullen said the motive for the attack is still unknown and the department is awaiting the results of the psychiatric evaluation.