We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

In a federal excessive-force trial getting underway in San Francisco, Santa Rosa police are accused of trying to cover up mistakes by charging a K-9 dog bite victim with resisting arrest.

Kyle Biedma, 26, was bitten in front of his Saracen Road home in Santa Rosa in April 2013 after police mistook him for a suspected gang member they were searching for.

The Rancho Cotate High School graduate was charged with obstructing officers for not dropping to the ground when ordered to do so. He was acquitted by a Sonoma County jury after a short trial.

He sued the city and Officer Michael Clark, alleging negligence, false imprisonment, battery and violations of his constitutional rights.

His lawsuit accuses the department of charging him with the misdemeanor crime to protect the city from a costly injury claim. Under the law, a conviction would insulate officers and the department from civil liability.

“They made a mistake and were not willing to admit it,” said Biedma’s lawyer, Don Edgar.

Chief Hank Schreeder did not return calls seeking comment. Rob Jackson, the city’s attorney, denied Clark tried to ward off a lawsuit.

He said Clark, a 17-year veteran, wasn’t aware of the protection. He merely suggested the charge on the grounds that Biedma failed to comply with his orders, Jackson said.

The final decision belonged to the District Attorney’s Office, he said.

“The idea that he set about this course of action to protect himself simply isn’t true,” Jackson said. “I’m confident the jury will agree.”

Prosecutors are not named in the suit.

Critics said charging suspects with resisting arrest is a common tactic in an age of increasing scrutiny of police use of force. Statistics on the number of resisting arrest charges that have been overturned in Sonoma County were not available last week.

“It’s something that law enforcement reports on a frequent basis to justify whatever occurred on their part,” said Carole Hyams of the Santa Rosa-based Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline.

Biedma’s life was turned upside down when he walked outside his house late one night to retrieve a pack of cigarettes from his car.

He stepped outside as police were converging on his neighborhood to look for a crime suspect they said fit his description. The man, identified as Eric Diaz, was suspected of evading police in a white BMW the day before hiding out in the area.

Officer Clark with his dog, a Belgian Malinois named Taz, confronted Biedma as the man walked through tall grass on the side of his house. He identified himself as an officer, illuminated himself with a flashlight and ordered Biedma to get on the ground, but the man kept walking, according to a police report.

Reportedly fearing for his safety, Clark released the dog, which bit Biedma’s arm as the man came within feet of the officer. Biedma was taken to a hospital with lacerations to his arm.

Police later sent a report to prosecutors, recommending the misdemeanor charge, accusing Biedma of behaving like he was going to attack the officer.

Several officers including Clark testified at trial.

Jurors returned a not guilty verdict after about an hour of deliberation.

Mac’s Deli

Where: 630 4th St., Santa Rosa

When: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon.-Sat.

Contact: 707-545-3785, macsdeliandcafe.com

Cuisine: American

Price: Inexpensive, entrées $5.95-$11.95

Corkage: n/a

Stars: ★★½

Summary: For 66 years now, the family-run deli has brought us a tasty bite of the Big Apple.

Biedma seeks damages for his physical injuries and emotional distress. He alleges police acted with “reckless or wanton or malicious motivation” in committing wrongdoing against him.

Attempts to settle the case before trial were not successful.

Testimony is expected to begin March 1 before Judge Richard Seeborg.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.

Show Comment