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Local News






Posted on Wed, Apr. 23, 2003 story:PUB_DESC
BARKING NO JOKE TO COP

Mercury News

When a Palo Alto police dog barked at Richard Dillon, the Menlo Park man barked back.

Dillon's actions didn't amuse Palo Alto police, who cited him on a misdemeanor charge of taunting a police dog. On Tuesday, Dillon pleaded not guilty in Santa Clara County court.

Now Dillon hopes to go to trial, because he thinks the charge is ``ridiculous,'' said his attorney, Donald Tasto.

Dillon was arrested March 5 at about 12:20 a.m., police said. He and a co-worker were walking down Ramona Avenue in Palo Alto after enjoying a night of Mardi Gras festivities, Tasto said.

As Dillon approached Palo Alto police officer Bob Wilkie's squad car -- occupied only by Odin, the canine -- Odin began to bark, said police spokesman Jim Coffman. As Dillon passed the open back window, he barked back at the dog. A heavy-duty wire screen was all that separated man and beast, Coffman said.

Police say Dillon not only barked, but also shook his fist at Odin. Wilkie cited Dillon on a charge of willfully and maliciously interfering with the duties of a police dog.

Dillon denies that he shook his fist at Odin, and said he only barked once at the dog, from a distance of about 10 feet, Tasto said. Neither Wilkie nor Dillon could be reached for comment Tuesday.

The charge, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail, is unfair for two reasons, Tasto said: Dillon didn't bark maliciously, and Odin wasn't working at the time.

Santa Clara County prosecutors said they couldn't yet comment on Dillon's claims.

``We are currently reviewing the law and investigating the facts in more detail,'' said supervising deputy district attorney Jay Boyarsky.

Dillon's next hearing in Santa Clara County court is Thursday.


Contact Jessie Seyfer at jseyfer@mercurynews.com or (650) 688-7531.
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