Suspect in attack on firefighters takes stand

Posted at 7:09 PM, Mar 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-17 22:10:43-04

A man accused of stabbing two San Diego firefighters who responded to an incident at an East Village trolley station testified Thursday that he feared for his life during the altercation.

Ryan Allen Jones, 35, is charged with two counts each of attempted murder of a firefighter, assault with a deadly weapon and battery. He faces more than 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

In surveillance video shown in court, Jones is seen swinging a pocketknife with a three-inch blade, sinking it into the back of San Diego firefighter/paramedic Ben Vernon.

RELATED: Trial begins for man accused of stabbing two San Diego firefighters

Vernon and fellow firefighter Alex Wallbrett were responding to a medical-aid call on June 24, 2015, but Jones became involved when he thought the men were not gentle enough with their patient.

In the video, there is pushing and shoving before it escalated and MTS security officers got involved.

Prosecutors said Jones made a calculated decision to pull out a pocket knife, flip it open and attack the firefighters as they tried to help the intoxicated man at the trolley stop in the 500 block of Park Boulevard.

In his opening statement earlier this week, Deputy District Attorney Steven Schott said Jones stabbed the two firefighters in a "brazen attack" that was "nothing short of pure violence."

In court Thursday, Jones testified, "I was thinking these guys were gonna jump all over me."

Jones noted that he saw a baton, pepper spray and guns, and added, "I didn't know what they'd do; I had no idea."

Jones, who is blind in his right eye, was pepper-sprayed. He told the court that he was in fear of his life at that moment.

"… and they were yelling, cursing, screaming … OK, I'm gonna defend myself, do whatever I have to do. I'm not gonna be a statistic. I'm not gonna die today," Jones testified.

Closing arguments are planned for Monday.