PORTSMOUTH -- Roger Brown knows that the first thing most people do when they stumble on a crime is pull out their phone and start recording.
"It's kind of strange to think today that that's what a lot of people would do," said Brown, a Coast Guard petty officer first class stationed in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Brown never thought of his cellphone when he heard a scuffle recently at a Portsmouth Wal-Mart. When he realized a man had a police officer on the floor on his back and was beating him in the face, Brown leapt into action and started striking the attacker with his knees.
"I tried to grab him and get him off the cop, and another cop was trying as well," said Brown, 39 and a Portsmouth native. "So I started giving him some knee strikes, trying to break it up, until another Samaritan jumped in and was able to roll them over so the cop was on top.
"But the guy kept punching, and finally the other cop was able to spray him as other cops were showing up."
One of the officers was working off-duty for Wal-Mart on April 27 and recognized the attacker. When a second officer arrived, the man became violent and went after the first officer.
"It was crazy," said Brown, who received some Coast Guard law enforcement training. "The officer was bleeding from his nose and lip."
Brown stuck around and filed a report with the officers, and has received a subpoena to appear in court. A group who had witnessed the event applauded him and the other bystander who jumped in.
Clinton Pickens, 32, faces charges including felony assault of an officer and felony grand larceny, according to online court records.
"It's humbling to have them thank us for doing what anybody should do," said Brown, who has 14 years in the service and works as an electronics technician. "You never know when you're going to need the help of the police.
"So we have to look out for local law enforcement when they need us. I'd do it again in a heartbeat."