A Randolph man faces years in prison for allegedly biting police officers during a disturbance at a men’s shelter.
Samuel L. Byrnes, 20, was charged in Columbia County Circuit Court March 22 with two counts of battery to law enforcement, one felony count of attempted battery to law enforcement, one felony count of discharging bodily fluid at a public safety worker, one felony county of resistance causing injury, one misdemeanor count of resistance, two drug-related misdemeanors and one misdemeanor county of disorderly conduct. He faces over 25 years in prison and $57,500 in fines if convicted of the charges.
According to the criminal complaint, Portage police officers responded to River Haven Men’s Shelter, 108 E. Pleasant St., around 11:30 a.m. March 18 with a report of a disturbance between a resident and a staff member. Upon arrival, a manager reported that Byrnes was drinking from a bottle of vodka in violation of shelter rules, and they wrestled when the manager tried to take the bottle away.
One of the officers located Byrnes and found him arguing with staff. A staff member said he had to leave due to breaking the rules, but he refused. The officer said he had to leave or he would be physically removed. He then started to leave with the officer, the complaint says, while shouting obscenities at staff. The officer then told Byrnes he was under arrest and started handcuffing him. Another officer assisted.
According to the complaint, Byrnes ignored their orders to get on the ground with his hands behind his back, moved his body and arms, kicked his legs and tried to push away from the officers, who eventually wrestled him onto the ground. He was then handcuffed and put into the back of a squad car. One of the officers fell onto the other at one point during the fighting.
One of the officers returned to the police station but was called back to the shelter. On arrival, the returning officer saw the remaining officer open the back door of the squad car. The remaining officer reported that Byrnes had spit at and bitten him on the wrist during a physical and verbal altercation from the back seat after attempting to take away Byrnes’ phone and keep him from harming himself.
Byrnes then lunged out of the squad car, and the officers took him to the ground, and he screamed, kicked and twisted his body. He spit on and bit the second officer on the hand at one point. More officers arrived and Byrnes was then placed back in the squad car.
Police Chief Keith Klafke said in a statements that one of the officers had to undergo multiple surgeries after receiving an infection following the bite. The officer was reported to be discharged from the hospital with recovery time needed before returning to work.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 2.