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Petaluma agrees to $500,000 settlement with man bitten by police dog

The city of Petaluma has agreed to pay $500,000 to a man who was bitten by a police dog and lost a chunk of his biceps.

The settlement, reached this week, ends a civil rights lawsuit that Edward Hogya, 67, filed in federal court accusing police of excessive force and false arrest. Hogya's acceptance of the award releases the city and Officer Jason Jucutan, the canine handler, of liability for Hogya's legal claims, injuries and attorney costs.

In the settlement, the city maintains the payment doesn't constitute an admission of liability.

"The city's position on this is not that we're guilty of anything," City Manager John Brown said. "We believe the proper procedures were followed and the officers acted responsibly within the context of how a situation like that would normally be addressed."

But, he said, Hogya was seriously wounded.

"We do have to acknowledge that a person was injured, a police dog was involved and there were some pretty severe injuries as a result of that," he said.

Police arrested Hogya about 10:30 p.m. on the day after Christmas two years ago following an altercation the man had with his estranged son over the phone. The son reported to police that his father had threatened to come to his house and shoot him.

Police who went to Hogya's house, including Jucutan and his police dog Kilo, said Hogya was verbally confrontational and refused to obey orders to lie down.

Based on information from the son, police believed Hogya may have been armed, according to court documents.

As Hogya turned toward his house, Kilo was released and bit him, knocking him to the ground, according to court documents.

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