ROSEVILLE (CBS13) — A police dog took down a man outside the Roseville IHOP Saturday in an incident that was caught on camera and shared on social media.
On Tuesday, Matt Cassell, a friend of the suspect, Ryan James Heater, described him as a good man who served our country.
Heater was arrested Saturday morning at the IHOP restaurant in the 100 block of North Sunrise Avenue. Police say Heater caused a disturbance in the restaurant and threatened staff as he looked for his wife. He was eventually taken down with the help of a K9 officer.
Cassell says he and Heater have been friends since they were kids.
Cassell says Heater is a good man who was stationed at Beale Air Force base, where he was beloved by many.
“All I know, he was at the top of his class in physical fitness; he smashed every record,” said Cassell. “I know that he was aiming always to be the best at everything.”
Cassell weight lifted with Heater for years. Now in the reserves, Cassell says his friend has battled with depression for some time.
“It’s tough knowing he has a mental illness,” said Cassell. “He is being treated and his family had been pushing and trying to treat him and it’s just unfortunate a mental breakdown or something.”
In a video shot by a customer, Heater can be seen storming out of the restaurant. Once outside, he challenged a police K9 officer and several other officers.
Watching the video, Cassell wasn’t sure what to think, saying this isn’t the kid he knew and that Heater was frightened and scared.
“I’m not going to blame it completely on new medication. I’m not going to blame it on… it was just everything combined I think was weighing heavily on him,” Cassell said.
Cassell used a sports analogy to explain why Heater refused to back down.
“You played football. When we’re in a zone, we’re not listening to anybody, we’re hitting somebody and that’s what I think it was,” Cassell said.
Roseville police credit officers with good training in use-of-force and de-escalation tactics in handling Heater’s erratic actions. According to police spokesperson Rob Baquera, officers are also trained in recognizing mental health issues.
“In some sense, even if they think someone might be mentally ill and they are a danger to themselves or the public, then they (officers) have to act,” said Baquera.
The video of the incident continues to haunt Cassell, who hasn’t spoken to his friend in a year, only communicating via text. He wishes he could have done more for his friend, and after reading the comments on social media the family asked him to speak out.
“It’s just to make people aware that this can happen to anyone it can happen to anybody they can spiral out of control if they are in a deep in depression,” Cassell said.
Heater was arrested on the charge of resisting arrest.
Cassell plans to visit Heater in the South Placer jail as soon as he can.