4 arrested after officer hit with SUV

HOUSTON - Four men faced charges Monday after an officer was hit by an SUV when he tried to break up a fight, officials said.

Clute police said the officer, Sgt. Jimmie Sparks, was off-duty at 2:45 a.m. Sunday at his home in the Sherwood apartments on Lake View Drive in Clute when he heard a commotion from a group outside.

Investigators said Sparks then went outside.

"He stepped out of his apartment to check it out and observed 15, approximately 15 people fighting and using profanity," said Officer Belinda Rickman with the Clute Police Department.

Police said Sparks identified himself as an officer and told the group to leave, but they refused.

As Sparks came down to the parking lot to confront the group, police said four of the men jumped into an SUV.

Police said the driver, Richard Lopez, aimed for Sparks, hitting him with the vehicle and then driving off. But the men did not get far.

"He had his police radio, so he then called for backup, and on-duty officers then arrived at the scene. They blocked the entrance to the apartment complex," Rickman said.

After putting the complex on lockdown, officers launched a search and found the four men still inside the SUV in the parking lot, authorities said.

"They asked the guys to step out of the vehicle, but they refused," Rickman said.

Investigators said officers then tried to pull the men out, but two passengers, Uriel Mejia and Joe Escalante, fought back. Officers then used a Taser gun to subdue them, officials said.

Mejia, Escalante, Lopez and Alberto Soto were arrested.

"When you hit an officer, you are in trouble," Rickman said.

Lopez faces a felony charge of aggravated assault of a police officer with a deadly weapon.

Clute police said their officers suffered minor injuries and are expected to make a full recovery.

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