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.
He wasn't armed. In an interview Thursday, Hogya said he had two broken antique guns in a game room and two shotguns in his garage.
Hogya spent four days in jail after being arrested on suspicion of making threats against his son and resisting arrest. Prosecutors eventually dismissed the charges.
Hogya said Thursday he is glad to have the episode done.
"I've got a hole in my arm that will never go away," he said. "They released a dog on me when they had no reason to release a dog on me. I had 10 police officers in my front yard pointing guns at me. I never threatened anyone."
He said he is semi-retired, still running a 64-year-old pest control company his father started.
"I think it was basically a very fair offer," he said. "It's one of those things you wished had never happened."
You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or email@example.com.