PASADENA, Texas – A veteran police officer was beaten so severely that he's still in a hospital.
The assault happened at a strip center in Pasadena at lunchtime Wednesday. Lt. Joey McGill had just finished lunch at the Pho ViVi restaurant in the 7100 block of Spencer Highway.
Police are crediting a good Samaritan with saving the officer's life.
Investigators said 48-year-old Derek Ward beat Lt. Joey McGill so savagely that McGill's skull was fractured in two places.
Authorities are crediting Matt Heinrich with saving McGill's life.
"I don't know if he would have stopped. I mean, it was scary. I've never seen anyone do this to another human being. I mean, it was terrifying," Heinrich said.
Authorities said the officer had just finished lunch and came out of the restaurant to find a homeless man on the sidewalk. According to police, he bent down and was asking the man if he needed help and that's when the fight started.
Heinrich was just getting into his truck when he saw the officer being attacked.
"Next thing I know, this gentleman, hard as he could, punched the police officer in the face," Heinrich said. "The officer was disoriented 'cause he got him pretty good, and he hit him again. He actually got the police officer on the ground. Next thing I know, he just ran straight on top of the police officer and just hit him as hard as he could. It was scary. That's when I jumped out of the truck and ran over there to help him."
Heinrich said there was so much blood, he was afraid Ward might have a knife. But what he most feared was that Ward would go for the officer's pistol.
"I ran over there and grabbed the guy by his shirt and just tried to throw him off of him," Heinrich said. "The guy jumped on top of him again. At that point, I just kicked him in the chest to get him off of him."
When Ward left the shopping center, Heinrich followed him, phoning in his position until police could catch up with him.
McGill was taken to the hospital. The beating left him with two fractures near his right eye. He's expected to recover.
McGill's boss credits Heinrich with saving his officer's life.
"He's a hero. He saved our officer's life, I believe. The witnesses out there also told us they think had he not stepped up when he did, it could have had a more tragic outcome," Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger said.