Cops out sick after Golden Gate Park skirmish exposes them to poison oak

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerWeapon of mass discomfort: Three officers were reportedly exposed to poison oak while wrestling a suspect to the ground Sept. 9.

Three San Francisco cops remain on disability after suffering “severe” reactions to poison oak during a Sept. 9 scuffle with a tree-branch-wielding homeless man in Golden Gate Park, police said Thursday.

The incident erupted about 9:15 a.m. when transient William Deegan, 39, became violent with a park ranger who approached him in a forested area near Transverse Drive. The ranger was reportedly trying to cite Deegan for illegally camping in the park. During a struggle, police said, Deegan allegedly struck and wounded the ranger with a tree limb.

Police officers who were called to the scene also had their hands full. The transient struck one of the officers in the head with a log, Richmond Police Station Capt. Sharon Ferrigno said.

The ranger and cop were treated at the scene for their head injuries. However, the stitched-up cop couldn’t simply return to his beat, police said, as he and two of his colleagues were exposed to poison oak while wrestling Deegan to the ground.

Deegan was booked into County Jail on suspicion of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, along with threatening a peace officer and resisting arrest, Esparza said. Deegan also had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear at a court hearing.

“Police officers never know what they will encounter and we train and prepare for different scenarios,” Ferrigno said Thursday in a newsletter account of the attack, adding that the officers are recovering and are “expected to return to work shortly.”

As for Deegan, he remains in custody on $100,000 bail. On Sept. 12, prosecutors said, he pleaded not guilty to three felony counts related to the alleged attack. He is expected to appear in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing, Assistant District Attorney Alex Bastian said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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