The Chicago Police Department Memorial Foundation honored Sgt. Michael Bazarek as officer of the month for what he did on Sept. 18.
He was off duty in Chinatown when he said he happened to see 45-year-old Alexander Taylor strike 91-year-old Yen Jit Wong as he walked down Wentworth Avenue near 24th Street.
Bazarek was taking a break from a retirement seminar at police headquarters nearby. Driving for a cup of coffee he spotted a disturbed man on the sidewalk.
"He was ranting, wild violent hand gestures, screaming at the sky, the sidewalk," Bazarek recalled. "As I thought that to myself I saw this guy strike out at the elderly Asian male, knocking him right to the pavement."
Stuck in traffic, Bazarek, who has 125 years of police service in his family, kept his eyes on 45-year-old suspect Alexander Taylor and called for backup on his cellphone. Civilians on the street rushed to to help Wong.
"When I saw that I had help coming to back me, I cut him off, told him he was under arrest, get his hands in the air, he complied, still ranting," he recalled.
Bazarek quickly arrested Taylor after witnessing the attack. Wong's family said Tuesday they are grateful for what the sergeant did.
"He was off-duty and he was passing by. A lot of people just, you know, didn't care," said Eddie Lau, Wong's son-in-law.
"They were just surprised that after all these years this could happen on the streets of Chicago to a 91-year-old man, but it does happen. You see it every day," Bazarek said.
Wong's relatives said he hit his head on the ground and has bleeding around his brain as well as a broken collarbone. They said at the time of the attack, Wong was on his way home after having lunch with his son.
"My grandfather wasn't a threat to anybody in the community. He's 91. He enjoyed taking walks in the community," Wong's grandson, Jeremi Yu, previously told ABC7 Eyewitness News.
Wong was treated in intensive care at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He was eventually moved out of the ICU, but he is still undergoing physical therapy and remains on a feeding tube.
Bazarek said Taylor had been acting strangely leading up to the sucker punch.
"Going from gibberish to unintelligible comments, talking at the sky, talking at the sidewalk, and frightening people," Bazarek said in September.
Upon arrival at the Chicago police lockup, Taylor spat on a government official through the bars of his cell and then smeared feces on the door and walls of his cell. He was placed on a psychiatric hold at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Authorities said he has been held for psychiatric reasons in the past as well.
Taylor was charged with three felony counts related to this attack: one count of aggravated battery of a victim over the age of 50, one count of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and one count of aggravated battery in a public place.
Taylor has a history of violence against others, with a class X attempted murder charge on his record and a 2006 conviction of aggravated battery, as well as a history of self-harming behavior. He has also failed to appear in court 13 times.