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By: Michelle Bova (HS’07)
Ben Saks is heading to the Skibo Gymnasium to watch the Tartans basketball team do battle with the University of Rochester. But when the architecture major walks out the back door of his Shadyside home, about a mile from campus, his plans suddenly change.
Two men are struggling in his backyard; one is a police officer. Saks guesses the officer is trying to arrest his combatant for being drunk. As he watches, the fight gets worse. The officer tries to cuff his foe, but he breaks free, so the officer shoots him with a Taser. Saks sees electrode-charged wires flying out of the assailant’s back, but the man is undaunted. He pulls the wires out and runs around to the front of the house with the officer in pursuit.
Saks decides to follow the chase. Out front, he watches the struggle continue. The officer is on top of the man, trying to subdue him while avoiding his flailing punches. He manages to call for backup.
Saks realizes the officer needs assistance right now. “I offered to help,” he says. He expects the officer to say no. Instead, the officer asks him to hold the suspect’s legs. “I jumped on his legs, and the officer said, ‘Try to reach for his arm; he’s going for my gun.’ I slid my hand up the side of the guy’s body along the pavement, but at that point this guy had already pulled the trigger.”
Saks doesn’t remember standing up, but he believes the shock of being shot drove him to his feet. He then sat on the porch steps of a nearby house holding his wounded left hand. “I was trying to keep it from bleeding,” he says.
Fifteen minutes later, Saks was in an ambulance, wondering if he would ever see his hand whole again. After he arrived at the hospital, he learned that although the bullet damaged tissue, he would not lose any part of his hand. He also learned how he got hurt. The man shot him by partially pulling the officer’s gun out of its holster. Police officers told him that if he hadn’t stepped in, the officer at the scene could have been killed before backup arrived.(Continued …)