A Santa Rosa police officer was punched in the face by a homeless man early Wednesday morning outside the Mendocino Avenue Safeway, the department said in a news release.

Officers showed up to the Safeway in response to a call about a fight that erupted between two men outside the store after one of the men tried to assault one of the store employees, police said.

When the officer tried to separate the two, one of the men, identified as 27-year-old transient Timothy Ruhs, tried to flee.

The officer then chased Ruhs and tackled him, police said. Ruhs responded by punching the officer, the release said, breaking the officer’s nose, police said.

Ruhs was arrested and taken to Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of assaulting an officer and for using force against an officer in the performance of his duties.

You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 707-521-5205 or christi.warren@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @SeaWarren.