Homeless man arrested for allegedly punching officer in Berkeley

This undated image shows lights on a Bay Area police vehicle. (KGO-TV)

A homeless man has been arrested on suspicion of battery on a police officer and other charges for allegedly punching an officer in the chest in Berkeley early Tuesday morning, police said.

The incident began at 1:27 a.m. Tuesday when an officer responded to an advocacy program in the 1700 block of University Avenue after a man walked inside and asked staff to call authorities to help him with a problem, according to police.

The man flagged the officer down on the corner of University Avenue and Grant Street and as the officer parked his vehicle, the man walked up to the officer at a quick pace and said, "I need to go to jail!," police said.

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When the man was within arm's reach of the officer, he took a fighting stance and punched the officer in the chest, according to police.

The man ran away east on University Avenue when the officer reached out to grab him, police said.

Several officers pursued the suspect on foot until he ran to the rear of a building in the 1800 block of University Avenue that was completely enclosed by fencing, according to police.

After a struggle, officers were able to restrain the suspect, place him under arrest, and transport him to the Berkeley Jail.

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But when an officer opened the patrol vehicle for the suspect to enter the jail, he wiggled free and ran away with his handcuffs still on through the Police Department's interior parking lot, police said.

However, the officer quickly ran after the suspect and caught him before he could escape the department's perimeter fencing, according to police.

Authorities identified the suspect as 21-year-old Michael Edward Nicholson and said he was arrested on suspicion of battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and attempting to escape jail. They said he also had an arrest warrant from Lake County.

Nicholson is being held at the Berkeley Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.
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