A Madison police officer was confronted by a crowd and punched after a street fight on Prairie Road Wednesday night, according to a release from Madison police.
The officer stopped in the area of Prairie Road and Jacobs Way around 6:20 p.m. after spotting a large number of people in the street. He said that as he approached he saw a woman punch a man in the face, and he could see that the woman had a can of pepper spray.
The officer said that as he went to arrest the woman he was surrounded by a crowd that was voicing anti-police sentiments, including "We need to start killing these officers."
Police said the woman’s daughter was grabbing the officer while trying to free her mother. The officer said he tried to diffuse the situation by explaining to the crowd that the woman had just punched someone and was armed with pepper spray. Police said his words were ignored, and the struggle with the two people continued.
The older woman punched the officer in the face and grabbed him by the throat, according to the release.
The officer said he could see many in the crowd were recording the incident on their cellphones while some accused him of misconduct and using excessive force.
A witness told police he or she "felt the officer was in trouble" and said it appeared someone had gone for his gun.
The two women were arrested when more officers arrived.
"He demonstrated fantastic patience and restraint in dealing with these folks," Madison Police Department Capt. Vic Wahl said. "He was able to literally get assaulted in the midst of a large crowd and still take these women into custody without causing any injuries to anyone."
Police said Latonya B. James, 40, of Madison, threatened many times to kill the officer while on her way to jail. She was arrested on suspicion of battery to a law enforcement officer, possession of pepper spray, disorderly conduct and resisting.
Nanyamka N. James, 20, of Madison was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, resisting and on a parole hold.
Police said a nearby resident who was not involved in the melee told a detective the officer who was battered has, in the past, done a great job reaching out to residents and communicating with the neighborhood.