RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA — A Moreno Valley man accused of attacking his girlfriend and then trying to strangle a sheriff’s canine when deputies intervened was charged Wednesday with willfully injuring a law enforcement dog and other offenses.
Matthew Eric Ruvalcaba, 22, was arrested Sunday morning after the alleged assault in the 24300 block of Carman Lane, near St. Croix Street, in Moreno Valley.
Along with the canine assault count, Ruvalcaba is charged with battery on a domestic partner, false imprisonment and two counts of resisting arrest.
He made his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Jackson, who appointed him a public defender and scheduled his arraignment for Thursday morning at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Ruvalcaba is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
According to Riverside County Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Willison, at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, deputies were sent to the Carman Lane address to investigate reports of suspicious activity in a vehicle.
Willison alleged that deputies encountered Ruvalcaba inside the car, holding his girlfriend against her will. The woman, whose identity was not released, managed to break away from the defendant as deputies attempted to subdue him, but when the victim bolted from the vehicle, Ruvalcaba chased after her, Willison said.
“Deputies attempted to prevent the suspect from harming the victim; however, the suspect fought with them,” the sergeant said.
During the ensuing struggle, a K9 unit arrived, and a deputy set loose his partner, a Belgian Malinois named “Herbie,” who immediately pounced on the defendant, according to Willison.
“The suspect fought with Herbie and got a hold of Herbie’s leash and attempted to wrap it around his neck to strangle Herbie,” he said.
Deputies ultimately wrestled Ruvalcaba to the ground and handcuffed him. He was not injured, nor was the woman.
Herbie was taken to a veterinary clinic for an examination and was cleared to return to duty on Tuesday, according to sheriff’s officials.
Ruvalcaba has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.
— By City News Service / Image via Riverside County Sheriff’s Department