SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah’s police chief says an officer’s quick action saved a victim’s life early Saturday morning. Community members worry the officer’s actions went too far.
According to the Savannah Police Department (SPD) and a police report obtained by News 3, Officer D’Metri Martinez was responding to a separate call in the 100 block of Congress Street around 2 a.m. when “he heard a commotion” outside a nearby bar.
The officer saw a man — now identified as Jacques Didlaire, 40, of Opa Locka, Florida — on top of another man “in the act of cutting him with a knife.” SPD says the officer quickly disarmed the suspect and placed him under arrest.
Witnesses say Didlaire stabbed his victim around 10 times.
The police report details how exactly officers were able to arrest Didlaire, who is seen in a video bleeding profusely during the process.
Martinez says he was required to use “closed hand strikes to the face and ribs to try and break his grip from the knife” after Didlaire refused to let it go.
The report says an off-duty police officer who jumped in to assist “placed his shoe on Mr. Didlaire’s
wrist and was able to pry the knife from his grip.” A video appears to show him stomping on the man’s hand.
Police say, given the circumstances of the events, even deadly force could have been justified.
“An officer could use his gun and would be legally justified… when his life or someone else’s life is in danger or when someone is in the commission of a felony,” explained Savannah Police Capt. Alex Tobar. “An officer can deploy, can use deadly force.”
Later in the video, officers are seen slamming Didlaire’s face into a car after a police report says Didlaire kicks one of the victims from the original knife fight. Officers say they used what they call a “single-leg takedown” to get him to the ground.
“Especially when there’s a weapon and there’s a person who has already been injured, the officer has to put a stop to that. It can’t be a long-term decision. This has to be fast. If the officer waits, another person could be stabbed, another person could be hurt,” said Tobar.
The victim, a 41-year-old Statesboro man, was taken to the hospital for treatment. His injuries were serious, but non-life-threatening.
“The officer’s actions were brave and heroic,” Chief Roy Minter said. “The officer jumped into action and arrested the subject, but he also ultimately saved the victim’s life.”
Didlaire was booked at the Chatham County jail on charges of aggravated assault, aggravated battery and use of a knife during the commission of a crime.
He was also charged with terroristic threats for threats of violence against police officers. The police report says Didlaire threatened to kill officers when he got out of jail.
SPD has determined the incident between the two men started inside a business on Congress Street and continued outside, resulting in the assault.
Anyone with information on the ongoing investigation can call the SPD Crime Tip Line at 912-525-3124.
Information can also be submitted anonymously to CrimeStoppers at 912-234-2020 or online here. CrimeStoppers offers a reward of up to $2,500, depending on the severity of the crime, if a tip leads to an arrest.