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Man Put K9 Unit in Headlock During Standoff After McDonald's Attack: Police

Newsweek 11/15/2022 Thomas Kika
Above, a representational image of a McDonald's location in California. A man was engaged in a four-hour standoff with police on Monday after allegedly harassing and assaulting diners and workers at a McDonald's in Terra Linda, California. © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Above, a representational image of a McDonald's location in California. A man was engaged in a four-hour standoff with police on Monday after allegedly harassing and assaulting diners and workers at a McDonald's in Terra Linda, California.

A series of alleged assaults against customers at a California fast food restaurant led to an hours-long standoff with police on Sunday in which a police dog became physically involved.

The San Rafael Police Department on Monday reported that 35-year-old Robert Michael Chernoff, of neighboring Novato in the San Francisco Bay Area, had been arrested and hit with numerous felony charges for a prolonged incident at a McDonald's in Terra Linda. According to the department, officers first responded to the scene at around 1:50 p.m. local time, based on reports that a man had allegedly verbally and physically assaulted customers and employees, utilizing "hand strikes" and "an unknown aerosol spray," and also attempted to stab someone.

Arriving at the scene, officers claimed that Chernoff was being uncooperative and refused to discard the knife he had attempted to attack someone with. At that point, the officers evacuated the restaurant and created a perimeter around the building to keep the public away from the suspect.

This began a roughly four-hour standoff between Chernoff and the authorities, with the San Rafael-Novato Regional Crisis Negotiation Team being called in to help negotiate with the man and deescalate the situation. Despite multiple attempts by the team, the suspect refused to surrender and became increasingly agitated.

"It was determined that negotiation efforts were not successful and becoming futile," the department's official statement reads. "It was clear that Chernoff remained a public safety threat as he refused to give up the knife he was holding. To ensure the safety of the surrounding public, an arrest response team was established to try and take Chernoff into custody."

After a few more attempts to convince Chernoff to stand down, the arrest team began to approach him, wielding "less-than-lethal [rubber] munitions" and deploying a K-9 officer. The police dog bit the man, who was then able to break free and put the animal in a headlock. Officers claimed that it looked as though he was attempting to choke the animal. Chernoff was finally subdued and brought into custody after the arrest team used a Taser.

The suspect sustained a minor injury where the K-9 officer had bit him and was treated at a nearby medical facility. The dog, meanwhile, was mostly unharmed aside from "a small scuff" on its nose.

Henry K. Lee, a crime reporter in the area, managed to partially capture the arrest team's struggle with the suspect in video shared to Twitter.

Chernoff has since been booked at Marin County Jail and now faces charges including felony assault with a deadly weapon/knife, felony criminal threats, misdemeanor assault and battery, misdemeanor resisting and obstructing police officers, and misdemeanor harming a police K9. Authorities are currently unclear as to what set off his alleged assaults at the McDonald's and are continuing to investigate the matter.

Newsweek reached out to the San Raphael Police Department for comment.

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