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Utah trucker stops attack on Wyoming officer

WYOMING – A long-haul trucker from Taylorsville is being called a hero by the Wyoming Highway Patrol.  They say, without him, a trooper could have been killed.

Investigators say the trooper was trying to bring a suspect to the back of the WHP car when that man ran into traffic.  Meanwhile, Darren Phillips was driving eastbound on I-80 just past Green River when he saw the trooper and the suspect fighting.

“By this time, the trooper was on the ground with the guy who was attacking him on top of him,” according to Phillips.

When Phillips saw what was happening, he knew he had to do something.

He says, “I didn’t even think.  All I needed to do is help him.  I didn’t want anyone hurt or killed, so, I thought, I’ve got to help.”

The long haul trucker slammed on his brakes in the middle of the interstate and sprang into action.

“I jumped out of my truck and ran over.  As I ran over, the trooper saw me and he yelled to me, ‘He’s going for my gun,’” he says.

Fortunately for Phillips, he has hand-to-hand combat training from his decades of service in the military.  He served more than ten years in the Marine Corps and then another decade in the Utah Army National Guard.  So, Phillips knew how to take the suspect down.

“I put my arm around his neck and I put a choke hold around his neck, stood up then leaned back,” Phillips says.

Both Phillips and the suspect fell to the ground.  The suspect tried to fight back, even reaching over his own head to try and grab Phillips, but, to no avail.  Phillips kept the choke hold in place until the suspect stopped fighting.

By that time, another WHP trooper arrived to help Phillips and his fellow officer.  The suspect even had some words for Phillips as he was walking away.

“As he’s walking past me in his handcuffs, he looked over at me and said, ‘Nice choke hold,’” Phillips says.

Officials with the WHP say the trooper had some cuts and bruises, but had no major injuries.  The suspect reportedly had some cocaine and 74 pounds of meth in the car.