‘Ninja Warrior' Hailed as Hero for Chasing Down Driver Who Struck LAPD Officer

Akbar Gbajabiamila was on his way to work last June when he saw an SUV sideswipe a police motorcycle, throwing the officer 50 feet, before taking off.

Gbajabiamila was headed to San Pedro for work as host of "American Ninja Warrior," when the crash happened on West Vernon Avenue near Normandie on June 5, 2015.

He slammed on the brakes, angled his car in front of the officer so he wouldn't get hit by oncoming cars, made sure he was OK, then chased down the offending motorist, who was driving a black Pontiac sport utility vehicle.

Minutes later, Gbajabiamila returned to the scene of the crash armed with cellphone pictures of the license plate that led to an arrest in the case.

"I don't feel like I'm a hero," said Gbajabiamila, who was honored Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council with a commendation plaque. "Ultimately they're the heroes. They're the ones that sacrifice their lives for the community."

LAPD Motor Officer Hank Colebrooke is thankful Gbajabiamila stopped.

"I was obviously very pleased to have him stop," said Colebrooke, who has been on light duty with the department since the concussion-causing crash that banged up his shoulders and knees. "It was a Friday afternoon. Plenty of people saw what happened."


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Gbajabiamila is glad Colebrooke is OK and that his photos helped police track down the 18-year-old woman who was driving on a suspended license for an unsafe lane change when she hit the officer.

Colebrooke suffered vertigo for a month, had road rash, tore something in his knee and was on pain medication. He had to have shoulder surgery and may have to have another one. His doctor wants to check out his knee with a scope.

The crash cracked the frame of the BMW police motorcycle, a $20,000 loss.

Colebrooke said it could have been Santa Claus driving the vehicle for all he could tell. He was no use as a witness.

What neither of them could get over, though, was the fact that no one else stopped to help.

"The guy is a standup guy," Colebrooke said. "I didn't think I'd ever see him again."

Wednesday was the first time they had seen each other face-to-face since the crash.

Gbajabiamila learned that Colebrooke's two kids, ages 10 and 9, are "Ninja Warrior" fans.

"Hopefully this is a bridge between the community and the police to come together," Gbajabiamila said. "He's a human. He's a father. He's a husband."

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