In March of 2009, a vagrant accused several police canine officers of using their police dogs to abuse him. He advised the court that he was sleeping when the officers approached him and ordered their dogs to bite him repeatedly. He stated that it was a brutal and unprovoked attack on his person. He filed a lawsuit against these officers, the police department, and the state of New York. He also claims that following this assault, the officers arrested him illegally. He requested that the court issue a summary judgment finding that the officers, state, and department, are responsible for his injuries.
The officers involved advised the court that they were acting under color of law when they responded to a situation involving a violent man who appeared to be mentally ill and homeless. Upon their arrival, the man turned on the officers and began to attack them. Two of the officers had canine units who were used to assist the officers in arresting the man without additional harm to the police officers who were on the scene. Records indicate that one officer was injured prior to the introduction of the police dogs into the affray. Because of the surrounding issues involved in this arrest, the police department requests that a summary judgment be issued in their behalf dismissing this man’s claims.
When police dogs are deployed on the scene of a crime, it is common knowledge that someone is likely to be injured. However, that injured person is most likely not going to be injured fatally. In this society, we are constantly striving to find better non-fatal ways to apprehend criminals. This is especially true of mentally ill criminals who can be extremely dangerous to deal with. Mentally ill criminals are often unaffected by chemical weapons. In some cases, chemical weapons increase the violent actions of the person. Electric weapons are also not always the answer. Stun guns and Tasers have been associated with numerous fatalities. Electric shock is not good for the heart or the brain. Applying external electric shocks to a person is very likely to cause lasting injury or even death. However, a police dog is trained to bite and hold on to reduce the overall trauma of the injury and to prevent the person from assaulting a human patrol officer. The goal of a police dog is not to bite the throat or cause a fatal injury. The bite of a police dog does cause superficial trauma to the bite location. However, that trauma is much less than the trauma caused by a bullet which can be the next level of force that is required to control the actions of a person who is out of their minds due to illness or drugs.
Clearly, dogs like any weapons that are used by the police to accomplish an arrest, need to be monitored to ensure that they are not used improperly. Most law enforcement officers are trained to use video tapes to ensure that the actual picture of what the officer was dealing with at the time is able to be shown in a court of law. It is not clear in this case, if any of the officer’s patrol cars was equipped with video equipment, or if the incident occurred in an area where a police car could not record the occurrence. Either way, the court determined that there were issues of fact that a trial court would need to examine in order to determine if the officers were guilty of misusing the dogs. It is also possible that this defendant is just trying to complicate the situation in an attempt to have the court focus on the use of dogs and not on the actual behavior that caused him to be arrested.
At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its felony Lawyers, have convenient offices throughout New York and Metropolitan area. Our police misconduct lawyers can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Without a criminal Lawyer, you could lose precious compensation to help your family.