ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – On Saturday night, a St. Paul Police officer was working off duty at a Super America gas station, in uniform, when a man came into the store asking to go to jail.

The officer thought it was a joke, but soon found himself in a fight for his life.

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“Then before you know it, he is attacking the police officer,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said.

Police say Anthony Nickson was going for the officer’s gun. He kept trying as two more officers arrived to help.

“This is a situation where there is an assault on an officer, trying to take his firearm,” St. Paul Police spokesman Howie Padilla said.

It’s the third example in a week of officers in life-threatening situations.

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St. Paul Police say while officers encountering violence isn’t exactly routine, it isn’t rare.

“They’re called upon to do dangerous work in order to protect the public and in order to protect themselves,” Padilla said.

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office dealt with 600 cases involving obstruction of legal process in 2006, but that number has been declining.

“With the tragic incident that occurred last week with the Mendota Heights officer, I think we are more heightened to all of this,” Choi said. “But from time to time we get cases all the time in which somebody is assaulting a police officer.”

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Choi said it appears Nickson had gotten into a domestic dispute of some kind before asking the officer to take him to jail.

Kate Raddatz