Cops struggle to subdue alleged shoplifter

A suspected shoplifter was arrested after allegedly assaulting two police officers at a Kmart store in Santa Rosa this morning, police said.

At about 10:40 a.m., police were dispatched to a Kmart store located in the 3700 block of Cleveland Avenue after the store’s loss prevention officers saw a man cutting open boxes of merchandise, removing security tags from the products and then concealing some items down his pants and other items in a duffle bag.

Two Santa Rosa police officers went inside the store and contacted the suspect.

The suspect provided the officers with a false name, police said.

Officers later identified the suspect as 39-year-old Santa Rosa resident Michael Leigh Joseph.

Officers searched Joseph and found a knife and a baggie of methamphetamine in his possession.

As the officers tried to handcuff Joseph, he attempted to flee on foot. He started to run but the officers tackled him, police said.

The suspect began violently struggling with the officers in an attempt to break free of their hold, according to police.

During the struggle Joseph bit one of the officers several times on the hand and arm, police said.

Joseph grabbed an officer’s firearm and repeatedly attempted to pull the firearm from the officer’s holster, police said.

The two officers continued struggling with Joseph for several minutes while attempting to handcuff him, police said.

The officers were eventually able to subdue Joseph and restrain him, according to police.

Joseph cut both officers on their faces during the struggle, but police said Joseph’s bites to the officer’s arm did not break the skin.

After handcuffing Joseph, police conducted a search of his bag and discovered a loaded semi-automatic handgun, police said.

Joseph was arrested for resisting arrest with threats or violence, attempting to remove an officer’s firearm, assault on a police officer with injuries, being a felon in possession of a firearm, burglary, possession of methamphetamine, violation of probation, and for an outstanding no-bail arrest warrant for possession of a controlled substance.

Joseph was transported to the hospital with injuries he suffered during the altercation with police. Police said he would be booked into the Main Adult Detention Facility after he is released from the hospital.

The Santa Rosa Police Department is encouraging anyone who witnessed the assault on the officers to call the department’s Violent Crimes Team at (707) 543-3590.

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