Public Safety

Cedar Rapids police thank man who assisted officer who was being assaulted

Chief: Jason Titlbach 'was very courageous and incredible'

Jason Titlbach (left) is thanked and congratulated Thursday by Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman. Titlbach, 37, of Cedar Rapids, came to the assistance of a police officer the morning of May 16 in a convenience store parking lot as the officer was being assaulted. (Courtesy of Cedar Rapids Police Department)
Jason Titlbach (left) is thanked and congratulated Thursday by Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman. Titlbach, 37, of Cedar Rapids, came to the assistance of a police officer the morning of May 16 in a convenience store parking lot as the officer was being assaulted. (Courtesy of Cedar Rapids Police Department)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man who intervened when he saw someone assaulting a police officer was thanked Thursday by the Cedar Rapids Police Department.

Jason Titlbach, 37, helped prevent serious injury to an officer last month when he helped restrain the suspect, who was repeatedly hitting the officer in the head, police said.

Titlbach said in an interview he was one of several people who saw the May 16 altercation in a convenience store parking lot.

“I was like, oh, hell, no,” Titlbach said. “I know what it’s like to not have any assistance or anything like that while everyone else watches, and it’s not good.”

Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman presented Titlbach with a letter of appreciation and a police challenge coin.

“I was really in awe of and very thankful for his interaction,” Jerman said. “For him to intercede, it really could have prevented a very, very tragic situation — not only the serious injury to the officer but also to the individual who was assaulting him.

“Mr. Titlbach really prevented anyone from being seriously injured and really helped this situation. ... He was very courageous and incredible.”

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Patrol Capt. Jeff Hembera said Titlbach handled the situation “exactly the right way” by asking the officer if he needed help and then coming to his aid.

“A lot of times people aren’t sure what to do or don’t really want to get involved,” Hembera said. “When somebody does step in like this, it’s very much appreciated. It’s great to know we have citizens like that — that aren’t afraid to get involved if an officer needs it.”

According to criminal reports, the altercation took place when an Officer Dillon Boenish was attempting to take Michael Getz, 35, into custody in connection with violation of a no-contact order.

Getz resisted and struck the officer multiple times in the head, according to police.

Titlbach helped Boenish subdue Getz and, because the officer was having trouble reaching his radio, Titlbach told a Casey’s employee to call 911 for backup.

The officer, Jerman said, was able to return home to his family after his shift.

Titlbach, who works as a bartender at JW’s Pub and Grub, said he saw the two men struggling on the ground outside the Casey’s General Store at 1661 32nd St. NE sometime after 2 a.m.

“The officer tried to gain control over him, but the individual was able to get an arm out and hit the guy in the back of the head,” Titlbach said.

With no one else stepping in, Titlbach — who said he has worked to turn his life around after serving time on car theft and drunken driving charges — felt he had to help.

“Regardless of his history and mistakes or bad decisions, in this case, he made a good decision, and we wanted to show our appreciation for that,” said Hembera. “I give the guy credit for owning any mistakes he’s made in the past and moving on.”

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“As a department,” he added, “we’re just extremely grateful to him and his willingness to step in and help when he saw that we needed it.”

Getz was arrested at 2:40 a.m. on charges of assault on a peace officer causing injury, interference with official acts resulting in bodily injury and possession of drug paraphernalia. After Getz’s arrest, police say they found him in possession of a needle used to inject illegal drugs.

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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