San Francisco police on Thursday identified the decorated officer who is undergoing intensive care after being mowed down a day prior by a suspected hit-and-run driver, who has since been arrested.
Elia Lewin-Tankel, 32, has been a police officer since 2012 and was assigned to the Tenderloin station in March last year. He was critically wounded in the line of duty Wednesday, police said.
The police department issued a statement Thursday, commending Lewin-Tankel's decision to join "one of the busiest, most demanding districts" in the city. They said his move reflects his "dedication to serving the residents of San Francisco."
During his tenure as a police officer, Lewin-Tankel has received multiple awards. He was recognized with the San Francisco Police Department's Purple Heart award in 2015 after being injured "as a direct result of actions he took to prevent serious injury or loss of life to members of the community," police said.
The suspect, Maurquise Johnson, 50, has been faced with multiple charges including, attempted murder, use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony, assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, inflicting great bodily injury, battery with serious bodily injury, resisting arrest causing great bodily injury, possession of a stolen item, felony possession of stolen property, reckless driving causing injury, unlicensed driver and resisting a police officer.
The incident began around 12:20 p.m. Wednesday when officers from the Tenderloin station observed a suspect who they believed was carrying a firearm, according to police Chief Bill Scott.
"It appears that the suspect became aware of the officers' presence" and took off, hitting Lewin-Tankel who was on the bicycle beat, according to Scott.
Johnson was tracked down and taken into custody in the 500 block of Ellis Street about 3:30 p.m., officials said. The vehicle involved in the hit and run was located earlier, but unoccupied.
Lewin-Tankel suffered "significant" leg injuries in the crash on Turk Avenue between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. He was taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and underwent surgery, Scott said.
San Francisco police officers gathered at the hospital, and Lewin-Tankel's family was expected to arrive late Wednesday from out of state.
Police described the man as a popular, highly-respected officer who recently began attending law school, teaches Jiu Jitsu to colleagues and the community, and frequently volunteers at events in the Tenderloin district.
On behalf of Lewin-Tankel's family, police asked people to "send good energy and prayers for his recovery, which we know will happen, because Elia is a survivor.”
The investigation is ongoing, and although an arrest has been made in the incident, SFPD investigators are asking anyone with information to contact the SFPD Anonymous Tip Line at 415-575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411 with SFPD at the beginning of the message. Tips may remain anonymous.