A citizen used a patrol car radio early Monday to get help for a Bonner County sheriff’s deputy who was being attacked by two men.
The 1 a.m. scuffle on Upper Pack River Road nearly turned disastrous when Deputy Eric Skinner said one of the attackers tried to grab his holstered weapon during the fight.
“I felt his hand on the butt of my duty weapon and became concerned for my safety,” Skinner said in his report.
The deputy said he sprayed one attacker, James Allen, with pepper spray but that didn’t stop him as they wrestled on the ground.
“I had to peel Allen’s hands off my weapon and I struck him in the face,” Skinner’s report said.
The deputy was trying to arrest Allen, 20, for earlier assaulting Bonners Ferry resident Dan Briggs, 28.
Briggs identified Allen and was in the patrol car when the fight with the deputy began.
After Allen punched Skinner in the face, Briggs said one of Allen’s friends, Austin Courser, joined in the attack.
The deputy eventually called on Briggs for help.
“It happened pretty fast,” Briggs said. “I just remember him asking for help and I jumped on the guys too.”
Authorities said Briggs then was attacked by Courser, but he got away to radio for help.
“I just grabbed the radio and was trying to find a channel. I told them an officer needs help and to hurry up.”
While Briggs was using the radio, Courser kicked him in the face. Courser also tried to pull the deputy off Allen several more times and told his friend to knee the officer in the face to get free.
Courser then ran into a friend’s home nearby.
Two Sandpoint city police officers arrived minutes after Briggs’ call. They helped Deputy Skinner put leg shackles and handcuffs on Allen.
When the officers went to arrest Courser at the house, he stepped outside with a roll of dimes in his hand. Courser struck city officer Mike Hutter in the face with the coins and escaped into the woods.
Authorities still were looking for Courser on Monday evening. Allen was in the Bonner County Jail on $44,000 bond. He was charged with assaulting an officer, and aggravated battery and assault on Briggs.
Briggs said Allen and Courser attacked him before any officers arrived. The men smashed his car windshield and hit him in the face with a rock several times, he said.
Briggs has a black eye and some bruises but was not hospitalized. Skinner and Hutter also were not seriously injured. “Deputy Skinner had his (bullet proof) vest on and most of the punches hit him there,” said Undersheriff Nick Krager.
Allen and Courser are suspects in several recent burglaries on Upper Pack River Road, authorities said.