Police at the corner of Russell and Sacramento  streets (file photo). Photo: ilovemytank
Police at the corner of Russell and Sacramento  streets (file photo). Photo: ilovemytank

A driver who tried to walk away from a traffic stop in South Berkeley was arrested Wednesday night after punching a police officer in the face, authorities report.

The officer received minor injuries, said Berkeley Police Sgt. Andrew Frankel, department spokesman. Frankel said the officer initially tried to pull the man over for a vehicle code violation at about 10:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of Russell Street.

The motorist drove on for about a block, Frankel said, then parked at Oregon Street and McGee Avenue. A passenger stayed inside the vehicle and cooperated with police, while the driver got out and “tried to walk away,” Frankel said.

When the officer tried to detain the driver, the man punched the officer in the face, Frankel said. The officer called for emergency back-up while attempting to take the man into custody.

One Berkeleyside reader in the area reported “Major police action in South Berkeley: Six BPD cars just came screaming east on Oregon near California.” Another person saw “a bunch of police cars … racing down the block.”

Police identified the driver as 38-year-old Kevin Otis Franklin. He remains in custody at Berkeley Jail, according to records online, and was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, a felony, and two misdemeanors: obstruction and battery of a peace officer.

Franklin is being held on $35,000 bail and is set for arraignment at Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland on Friday morning.

According to booking records online, he has a prior conviction from 2016 for resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer, both misdemeanors. Franklin has been arrested in Alameda County a number of times dating back to at least 2001, according to the Odyssey court records system online.

In May 2017, Franklin was charged in Alameda County Superior Court with evading an officer, a misdemeanor, according to Odyssey. He pleaded not guilty in July. No further updates about that case have been published.

Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...