A Soap Lake man is behind bars after he allegedly assaulted a police officer Wednesday night.

Soap Lake Police Chief Ryan Cox says Officer Justin Rowland was investigating a disturbance call in the 20 block of Elder Street at around 8:30 p.m. when he developed probable cause to arrest 30-year-old Derek M. Clark.

Cox says when Rowland attempted to arrest Clark, he resisted and a struggle ensued between the two.

"The individual (Clark) punched Officer Rowland in the face and also attempted to choke him. He also took his thumb and tried to gouge Rowland's eye out and also may have tried to use a stick to remove my officer's eye."

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Cox says the altercation was eventually broken up by a bystander at the residence who is believed to be a relative of Clark's.

"I truly appreciate, along with our entire department, the individual who stepped up to assist our officer. My dayshift officer went over this morning to personally thank him on our behalf. Had he not intervened, this would most likely have been a fatal incident either for our officer or for Clark."

Rowland suffered lacerations to his face and eye and was transported to Columbia Basin Hospital where he was treated and released. Cox says Rowland is now at home recovering and will be out of commission for some time.

Clark was finally arrested with the assistance of deputies from the Grant County Sheriff's Office and officers from the Ephrata Police Department.

He was booked into the Grant County Jail and is being held without bail on charges of second-degree assault, resisting arrest, and obstructing a law enforcement officer, with additional felony charges pending.

Cox says Clark has a history of assaulting police officers and is a known drug user who is believed to have been under the influence at the time of Wednesday's incident.

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