In an anti-climatic end to testimony in the jury trial of mayhem suspect Delano Blayze Malang, the defendant took the witness stand Friday and admitted he lunged toward Arcata police Sgt. Heidi Groszmann, bit off her thumb and spit it out.

Malang, 22, is accused of mayhem for biting off the top half of Groszmann’s thumb while she and other officers were struggling to place him in a police van on Aug. 1, 2021, during the Arcata Arts Festival. Malang was screaming, thrashing and kicking, at one point knocking off the body-worn camera of Officer Jamal Jones.

Police suspected Malang was under the influence of methamphetamine. But by the time he was finally restrained and taken away, his possible meth use was a relatively minor issue.

The ordeal started on an Arcata Plaza corner while Jones, Groszmann and Officer Joseph Rodes were questioning Timothy Cox about squirting people with a water gun. They also learned Cox had been in a fight with Malang, whose name officers didn’t know at the time.

Malang walked over and perched on top of a bench behind Cox and the officers. He said during testimony that “I wanted to see what was going on.” He said Cox had “assaulted me repeatedly” in the past.

Jones told Malang five times to leave the area, even saying “Please.” Malang ignored the orders, finally leaving when the officer walked toward him and asked if he wanted to be arrested.

Once Cox had been lectured and agreed to leave the Plaza, officers turned their attention to Malang. They had already taken note of his strange behavior, and several people on the Plaza reported Malang smoked meth all day and bugged people. Also, one man showed officers his arm and said “the little fucker bit me.”

Groszmann, under cross-examination by Deputy Conflict Counsel R. J. Loehner, described Malang as yelling to himself, with his hands and body twitching.

“He didn’t seem to have control of his body movements,” she said.

After the incident at the bench, Jones and Rodes began following Malang, who was walking away. Jones ordered him to stop. He kept walking.

All of this was captured on the officers’ body-worn cameras. The jury watched video footage multiple times.

Malang entered Cafe Brio, where a number of people were having lunch, with Rodes and Jones behind him. He ignored orders to “come here,” instead positioning himself behind a table. Rodes grabbed him by one arm, Jones by the other, and they took him outside the cafe.

Then began a wild, exceptionally loud struggle that didn’t end until Groszmann had lost half her thumb and Malang was finally in custody.

Malang was bellowing “No! No! I didn’t do anything! I didn’t do anything! Please don’t hurt me!”

Officers attempted to place him in the back of a patrol car. Screaming constantly, Malang began banging his head on the patrol car and then the sidewalk. Jones grabbed him by the hair to stop him.

Police then allowed Malang to sit on a curb for at least 15 minutes, while Groszmann went to get a police van. They figured they would have less trouble getting him into a van, and they didn’t want to use more force.

“We didn’t want to hurt him,” Groszmann testified.

Also, HSU police Sgt. John Packer was summoned to help. Packer, now retired, was known for his skill at dealing with rowdy suspects.

Packer testified it became clear quickly that with Malang, “words wouldn’t work.”

He stayed to help place the wildly thrashing Malang in the back of the van, and he saw Malang lunge toward Groszmann and bite her thumb. The bitten-off portion landed on the van’s back steps.

Groszmann said she had put her hand on Malang’s forehead to stop him from banging his head, “forward and backward and side to side.”

In the process, her thumb went into his mouth. Groszmann yelped “OW!” but continued to help, going to grab a “wrap” device to restrain Malang.

“She continued to assist,” Jones testified. “I kept telling her to go to the hospital but she continued to assist.”

Groszmann’s body camera filmed the moment when she removed her right glove and saw what remained of her thumb. There was a small gasp. Then she drove herself to Mad River Community Hospital.

Later, after doctors at the hospital “jammed” the top of her thumb back on, Groszmann was treated by Dr. Mark Pardoe, a reconstructive surgeon. Pardoe testified “it takes a pretty strong bite” to go through a fingernail.

When Malang testified Friday under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Trent Timm, the only thing he denied was being under the influence of methamphetamine. He said he hadn’t used it for a month or more.

Yes, he ignored police commands. Yes, he resisted, but it wasn’t because he was afraid of being arrested. It was because he didn’t want to be “grabbed” or “taken.”

Malang claimed he didn’t know he was being arrested and he didn’t understand what was happening or why. That seems unlikely, as he has been arrested a number of times and has convictions for robbery, larceny and assault, among other crimes.

Pointing to a portion of video footage, Timm said “That’s your head lunging forward,” isn’t it?”


“That’s because you lunged forward and bit off Sgt. Groszmann’s thumb.”


“When you got a chance to really hurt someone you did.”


Under direct examination by his own attorney, Malang said he ignored police commands “because I didn’t want to be around the police.” He didn’t understand why he was being grabbed.

As to the bite, “I bit off Officer Groszmann’s thumb and spit it out. I’d been put in the back of a police van … she stuck her thumb in my mouth.”

Malang said he didn’t know whether he “made a cognitive decision” to bite the officer. “I don’t know.”

Many of Loehner’s questions focused on what Malang was feeling at particular moments in time. Judge Gregory Elvine-Kreis ruled those questions irrelevant and they weren’t answered.

Loehner, who has been at odds with the judge during the trial, told Malang:

“Johnny, I’d like to ask you a lot more questions, but I don’t think this court would find them relevant. So nothing further.”

That drew an admonishment from Elvine-Kreis, who admonished Loehner so many times throughout the trial that this reporter lost count.

“You force me to do this,” the judge told Loehner.

It was unclear whether Loehner called Malang “Johnny’’ because he goes by that name, or if Loehner was making fun of Groszmann, who had been told the name was Johnny and used that name while speaking with Malang.

Loehner also mimicked Officer Jones’ pronunciation of “kids” when the officer was talking about his concern for children on the Plaza.

Prosecutor Timm responded with “Officer Jones has an accent. He should not be mocked.”

Another admonishment.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday afternoon. The Outpost will publish another article after the verdict is reached, with more information on Loehner’s antics and the fate of Sgt. Groszmann’s thumb.