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Suspect Bites Officer, Police Dog

A 22-year-old wedding crasher was arrested Saturday evening after a violent struggle with Santa Barbara police, during which he bit a responding officer and a police dog.

At 8:17 p.m. on Saturday, two officers — one of them a K-9 unit — responded to a call of a man causing a disturbance at a wedding being held at the Carriage Museum on Castillo Street. The man, identified as Goleta resident Jorge Rodriguez, had wandered into the reception uninvited and refused to leave. Several guests wound up picking him up and removing him from the property. Rodriguez kicked and threatened them in the process, said police spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood, and he continued to act erratically outside the museum’s gates, claiming people were trying to kill him.

When the officers arrived, they confronted Rodriguez in the parking lot and tried to detain him. He quickly punched one of them in the face, knocked him to the ground, and jumped on top of him. The other officer intervened and “a melee ensued,” said Harwood. The officers were unable to subdue Rodriguez for approximately six minutes.

Rodriguez bit the first officer in the shoulder during their fight. He continued to resist even when the K-9 officer activated his remote-control door opener to release the police dog from his cruiser and it bit and held onto Rodriguez’s own shoulder. Rodriguez then bit the dog and wrenched one of its legs.

Rodriguez was able to break away from the dog’s grasp, and in the confusion, the German shepherd bit the first officer lying on the ground. The dog soon let go and latched onto Rodriguez for a second time. Backup arrived and detained Rodriguez. Even with handcuffs on, he managed to assault another one of the officers, Harwood said.

The first two officers were transported to Cottage Hospital with multiple injuries. They have since been released. Rodriguez, who had to be sedated by paramedics on his way to Cottage, remains under medical care. Police suspect he was under the influence of drugs during the incident.

When Rodriguez is released from the hospital, he’ll be booked into County Jail on multiple felony charges, including resisting arrest resulting in injury and battery on a police dog. He was on probation for battery at the time of Saturday’s arrest. Harwood said the K-9 appears in good health but will soon be examined by a veterinarian.

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