“Kill me!” the madman demanded of cops 50 times as he wielded a massive, blood-stained knife.
Incredibly, the officers didn’t take the bait.
“All hell broke loose,” Glendale, Ohio’s police chief Dave Warman said of the March 29 confrontation in the middle of Interstate 75.
Warman arrived to back up Officer Josh Hilling, who had fired only one slug to the gut of a homicidal outlaw who was trying to commit suicide by cop.
“I had an open shot at him and he began to charge my other officer who was on the right,” Warman told The Daily Beast. “I was forming a triangle between the two [officers] and for a brief second I thought I was going to have to put this guy down just to keep him from hurting somebody else.”
But he and his fellow lawmen held their fire.
“He got to his knees again and I knew at that time as long as we could keep backing up—we had a lot of highway behind us—as long as we could keep backing up eventually he’s going to wear out and go down.”
And with only one round fired, they cuffed and were able to disarm and save the fallen assailant who begged for no mercy.
“It was a bowie knife, probably 10-12-inch blade,” Warman told The Daily Beast of the unhinged hiker’s blade. “The knife still had dried up blood on it.
“He used that same knife we’re thinking on the person he killed.”
In the end, despite belting “Kill me” 49 times, Pablo “Cubano” Aleman didn’t get his death wish.
The cops’ restraint proved too steady.
“He could have unloaded on him if he wanted to,” Warman said of Hilling. “He had every right to but he thought to himself that he could stall him long enough after firing that one shot for our guys to get there and support him.”
And every frame of their professionalism was caught on a 13-minute body cam video released Monday showing what it means to serve.
Remarkably, Aleman from his 24-hour watched hospital bed apologized to the officer he challenged: “Tell the officer that I’m sorry for having to put him in that position.”
That was a first for Chief Warman. “When someone gets shot and apologizes I think that’s saying something about the guy and also about the character the officer’s got.”
He was talking about the hero he’s known since he was a toddler. “I coached him in sports and knew once he went to the academy he would be a good one to have.”
Hilling was on patrol when he saw Aleman pacing in the middle of I-75 highway, where pedestrians are forbidden.
He approached the scruffy Aleman, 46, who was sporting a black military surplus coat and a skullcap. Asked why he was walking on the highway, Aleman told Hilling he had started walking to fetch a cab after taking a “China bus” from Dayton, Ohio.
“You can’t walk on the highway,” Hilling said, as captured by his body cam.
Out of caution Hilling asked Aleman to walk over to his cruiser to be “patted down.”
That’s when Aleman produced a knife worthy of Crocodile Dundee and charged Hilling, repeatedly shouting “Kill me!”
Hilling retreated and then fired once, radioing “Shots fired! Shots fired!”
With cars whooshing by and Aleman darting toward him and continuing to beg for bullets, Hillman remained composed with “Sir, get down” and “Drop the knife.”
This goes on for a long time as Aleman keeps stumbling to the ground, even shedding his coat and his skullcap.
“I’ll kill somebody else,” Aleman said on the ground. What Hilling or none of the other cops knew was that Aleman had been on the run from Baltimore County, Maryland, where on March 17 he allegedly stabbed to death his 56-year-old roommate, Victor Adolfo Castillo Serrano.
“He murdered his roommate and stole that guy’s car,” Warman said. “He was obviously at the end of his rope.”
So far Aleman has said little about the Baltimore stabbing, but told detectives that he was only aware of his roommate’s body.
“He did not confess, but he told the detectives to not worry about looking for anybody else,” Warman said.
Cops there found the lifeless man ditched by the foot of the second-floor stairs of his apartment building on Woodley Road “in the supine position.”
According to court reports, Aleman had rented an apartment from Serrano “approximately three months ago” and moved out weeks before the slaying.
Witnesses told cops that Aleman “came looking” for Serrano demanding to recover his things.
When cops entered Serrano and Aleman’s apartment they found clothes “covered with wet blood” that Aleman had been seen wearing after they reviewed surveillance footage.
They also recovered a “black puffy Polo coat” stuffed under Serrano’s bed soaked with “wet blood and had been cut in several places…cuts on the coat were consistent with the injury placement on the victim” the court papers say.
Had Officer Hilling not confronted Aleman, the police chief believes there would be more victims.
“Given the right situation I am certain he would have tried to commandeer somebody else’s vehicle and possibly killed them as well,” Warman said.
Hilling and other officers trained their weapons on Aleman, who in one last fit of rage tried to charge the cops and swing his knife but he was bleeding out and had gone dry on adrenaline.
“That shot probably saved the guy’s life,” Warman said of the shot to the man’s stomach area. “He was walking and stumbling but eventually I knew he would fall.
“The officer did a great job.”
The fact that Hilling only fired once is hard to understand for his mentor. “Quite honestly we are trained to tic-tac shoot twice,” Warman said. “We’re backing up and he’s trying to strike with a knife and was able to get one shot in and that was enough to subdue the guy and wait for help to come.”
A swift review of the matter by authorities and the local prosecutor determined Officer Hilling was clearly in the right and therefore there would be no charges filed.
The display of heroism has already caught the eye of police academies across the country.
“I’ve been called by training academies across the country and they already saw the tape today and they’re requesting a copy to train new officers.
“And hopefully that could make a difference to some of these young kids coming out.”