CHICAGO -- A witness rushed to the aid of a police officer who crashed his vehicle on Chicago South Side, a predominantly black neighborhood with feelings of mistrust toward the city's police department. Kevin Russell recorded the incident and told CBS Chicago he watched the police vehicle swerve and crash into a tree on East 82nd Street and South Jeffery Boulevard.
"I could tell something incredible was about to happen," Russell told the station.
A man in a white shirt then opened the driver's side door and pulled the police officer out of the vehicle as it billowed with smoke. More than 270,000 people have watched the video on Facebook, but some users said the bystander should have left the officer alone. Others praised him for his act of kindness.
The Chicago Police Department said the officer was on his way to pursue a suspect on foot and when he crashed. They said the officer was trying to avoid hitting a car that cut him off and that he had his vehicle's lights and sirens on during the accident.
"People think that people of color and police don't get along and don't have a good relationship, but in a situation like this when something incredible happens, you do the right thing," Russell continued. "You jump into action. This isn't a police officer. This is a human being."
James Morgan also jumped in to help the officers. He hopes the footage shows another side of his neighborhood. "Wasn't no animosity," Morgan said. "Wasn't nobody trying to hurt him anymore, just trying to help. That what it's about."
"I was really able to capture the real heart of the South Side of Chicago and the citizens in the city of Chicago," Russell said.
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