A 60-year-old man is facing assault-with-a-deadly-weapon and other charges after he allegedly encouraged his dog to attack a police officer who was attempting to make a DUI arrest, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Stephen Glen Beniak of Santa Barbara was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail Sunday night, with bail set at $30,000, said Sgt. Riley Harwood.
The incident began about 5:15 p.m., when Officers Allan Tuazon and Megan Harrison responded to a report of a man passed out in a black Audi parked near Lincoln Road and Hope Avenue, Harwood said.
Upon arrival, the officers found the vehicle empty, and were advised by two witnesses — one of whom was an off-duty Santa Barbara officer — that Beniak had arrived home about 5 p.m. and parked across the street from his residence in the 3800 block of Lincoln Road.
“The off-duty officer walked to Beniak’s location and also saw him passed out in his car,” Harwood said. “The officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol emanating from Beniak, and suspected that he was intoxicated.
“The officer removed Beniak’s keys from his vehicle’s ignition, for Beniak’s safety and that of others, and then backed away and waited for uniformed SBPD personnel to arrive,” Harwood said. “Prior to the arrival of on-duty officers, Beniak woke and stumbled into his residence.”
When officers Tuazon and Harrison made contact with Beniak at his residence, he initially spoke to them from behind his partially-opened front door, Harwood said
“Beniak was belligerent and refused repeated requests to secure his three dogs, which were with him inside of the residence and acting aggressively, and to step outside,” Harwood said. “Instead, Beniak opened his front door completely, stepped aside, and allowed one of his dogs, an approximately 90- to 100-pound bloodhound, to rush out of the residence toward Officer Tuazon.”
The dog bit Tuazon on his right hand, Harwood said, causing a puncture wound and laceration.
Beniak then called the dog back into the residence, made a remark similar to, “I hope you got bit,” and then closed the front door, Harwood said.
The officers again instructed Beniak to step outside; however he informed them that he was not going to come out, Harwood said.
Several other officers responded to the scene, and a perimeter was established around Beniak’s residence.
Sgt. Andy Feller spoke to Beniak through a bedroom window, Harwood said, and attempted for several minutes to convince him to secure his dogs and to exit the residence, which he refused to do.
At 8:45 p.m., officers obtained an arrest warrant for Beniak for assault with a deadly weapon, felony DUI (three priors within 10 years), resisting or delaying an officer, and driving on a suspended license; along with a search warrant for his residence, Harwood said.
Withe the help of a city Animal Control officer, officers made entry into Beniak’s residence and took him into custody at 9:15 p.m., Harwood said.
Beniak was transported to County Jail, where he submitted to a forced blood draw stemming from the DUI charge.
Tuazon’s injury was treated at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, and he returned to duty, Harwood said.
Beniak’s wife, who was not present at the time of the incident, has been cooperative with the investigation, Harwood said. The dogs have been released to her custody, and the animal that bit Tuazon has been placed on at-home quarantine. According to the wife, the dog has a history of biting, Harwood said.