A routine stop for a traffic violation turned into a fistfight and escape Thursday evening, when a Union City man got help from his girlfriend to break away from a San Leandro police officer who was trying to handcuff him, authorities said.
A San Leandro Police Department statement offered this version of the incident involving 22-year-old Solomon Cruz Espinoza of Union City, who is still at large, and his girlfriend, Vanessa Clark, who is in custody.
At 6:48 pm, an officer flagged a car for a traffic violation. When the car pulled into the Nimitz Motel at 555 Lewelling Boulevard a man later identified as Espinoza got out and started running.
The San Leandro police officer chased Espinoza and caught him trying to jump over a fence. At that point the suspect turned on the officer and a wrestling match ensued, authorities said.
The police account says the officer got one handcuff on the suspect, but could not complete the arrest as Espinoza kept trying to get his weapon.
During this struggle, Espinoza’s girlfriend, Vanessa Clark, is said to have come out of the motel and demanded that the officer release Espinoza.
Authorities say that when the officer loosened his grip on Espinoza to face Clark, he ran.
San Leandro police set up a search perimeter with help from a California Highway Patrol helicopter and ground crews from the Hayward Police and Alameda County Sheriff‘s Office.
But the search was called off after nearly five hours with Espinoza still at large.
Clark was arrested for delaying an officer in the performance of his duties, as well as for threatening harm to an officer.
Police say Espinoza has several outstanding warrants for assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence and vandalism from previous incidents.
The officer sustained minor scrapes and bruises from this incident.
Police said anyone with information on Espinoza’s whereabouts should dial 911.