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Chicago cop says she was afraid to use gun while being severely beaten

CHICAGO — A police officer who is now recovering in the hospital after being badly beaten by an unhinged man said she was afraid to use her weapon because of the scrutiny she would have faced, according to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

The officer, publicly identified only as a 17-year veteran, was responding to a car crash in the suburban neighborhood of Austin Wednesday when the attack happened.

The officer tried to talk to one of the drivers involved in the crash, a 28-year-old man believed to be high on PCP, when he became violent and struggled with them, Johnson said. While wrestling on the ground, the suspect allegedly grabbed the officer's head and slammed her face into the pavement until she lost consciousness.

The officer's partner finally subdued the suspect using a Taser and pepper spray, according to the Chicago Tribune, but two other officers were also injured and later hospitalized after the struggle.

“As I was at the hospital last night, visiting with her, she looked at me and said she thought she was gonna die, and she knew that she should shoot this guy, but she chose not to because she didn’t want her family or the department to go through the scrutiny the next day on national news,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who was speaking at a ceremony honoring police officers and firefighters, added that he didn't know the details of the investigation and couldn't say whether or not shooting the attacker would have been justified.

"I think it's pretty apparent that it was a horrific incident," Johnson said. "Anytime you face a life-or-death situation, then you can use deadly force, because that's what he was trying to do to her."

Charges are pending against the suspect.