The incident has also opened up -- again -- a call by the police union for officers to be issued stun guns. Berkeley and San Francisco remain the only city police departments in the Bay Area that don't arm their officers with the devices.
Carlos Alberto Delagarza, 43, was arrested after the short struggle on Bolivar Drive along Aquatic Park, adjacent to Interstate 80. He remains in custody without bail at the Berkeley City Jail after being released from a hospital with minor injuries.
"This was an extremely brutal attack," said Berkeley police union President Sgt. Chris Stines, adding that the officer, on the force for a decade, is now "doing well" despite "fairly severe" injuries. His name was not released. He will be on leave until at least the end of this week, Stines said.
Officers were originally called about 10:30 a.m. Monday for a report that Delagarza, who police said has a history of mental health issues, was on a roof pouring liquid onto the street and lighting it on fire, police said.
In an odd twist, the officer who was assaulted has worked to develop programs for the mentally ill in Berkeley and has done street counseling and crisis intervention with many mentally ill people over the years, Stines said.
While the officer recovers, the incident has renewed a call for stun guns within a department that has never had them and has had requests repeatedly rebuffed by Berkeley's nine-member Police Review Commission for at least the past 15 years, said Stines.
Over the past six months, police have responded to at least two different calls of knife-wielding men who could have been subdued with stun guns, Stines said.
Berkeley police also do not have police dogs, a helicopter or armored vehicles, he added.
Berkeley is one of only three law enforcement agencies out of 113 in the Bay Area that does not use stun guns or is not currently investigating their use. In a survey of Berkeley citizens last year, 83 percent of the respondents said they support the Berkeley Police Department at least investigating the use of stun guns to deter and control violent individuals when negotiating alone will not work.
"It is a known fact that Tasers save lives," Stines said.
After the officer was knocked unconscious, he came to and found the suspect trying to remove his gun from its holster. The suspect had also jumped on top of him, police said.
Police said Delagarza then took off running and jumped in the lagoon at Aquatic Park. Several officers got him out of the water and he was arrested, a police spokesman said.
In addition to his arrest on suspicion of attempted homicide, Delagarza was a arrested on suspicion of taking a firearm from a police officer, second-degree robbery, battery against an officer and battery with serious bodily injury. He is being held without bail.