On the evening of April 20, Randolph Merriwether, a member of the National Guard of California, was stationed at Cedar avenue and Post street, when Frank Riordan, a veteran of the Philippine war, approached him and is alleged to have referred to Merriwether as a "tin soldier." This resulted in a fight, during which Lawrence Betchel, of the National Guard, appeared upon the scene and advanced toward Riordan with drawn bayonet. The latter grasped the rifle, whereupon Betchel fired, killing Riordan almost instantly.
Betchel claimed that the act was in self-defense and that he was justified in approaching Riordan with a drawn bayonet, as the latter was in the act of disarming a soldier on duty.
On June 12, Betchel was held to answer and the case was set for trial before Judge Cook on December 4, but in view of the instructions to the jury in the Tilden case, the District Attorney moved that the case be dismissed, and it was so ordered by the Court.