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Homeless Man Brings Action for Police Dog Attack


On May 6, 2009, a homeless man was sleeping in a vestibule of a building. He claims that at some point that night, a police officer with a police dog and several other police officers rousted him from his sleep. He claims that after waking him, he was set upon by the officers who also made the police dog attack him. He claimed that he was hospitalized due to his injuries and that he suffered a personal injury as the result of this unprovoked attack. He filed a lawsuit to recover damages associated with this assault.

The officers who arrested the man that night claim that it was not an unprovoked attack on a sleeping homeless man. Rather, they claim that the man attacked the officers and that he was finally subdued by a police dog. The police department and the officers requested that the court make a motion for summary judgment in their favor dismissing the lawsuit in its entirety.

The homeless man contends that he should be awarded damages based on improper training on the part of the police officers and the police dog. He also makes the charge that they used excessive force on him. He maintains that the police department is guilty of negligent hiring, negligent retention, and lack of proper training. The defendant further claims that he was falsely arrested.

His defense team filed a motion for the police department to provide them will all of the records for all of the officers named in the complaint. The request included personnel records, training records, disciplinary records, and medical records. The police department and the officers involved object to the scope of the discovery motion. They maintain that the personal information of these officers should be safeguarded and is not necessary to the investigation of the case.

The defendant stated that the mental health of the officers is in question based on their actions toward him. He contends that the scope of the request is in order based on the fact that he feels that these records would reveal that the officers suffer from emotional or mental disease based on their assault on him. He contends that they have been negligently hired, maintained, and trained in that they would order a police dog to bite him. He also contends that the severity and number of bites prove that excessive force was used.

The police department and the officers contend that exposing the personal addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers and medical records to public review is not necessary or proper in the scope of this suit. Further, the benefit of the doctor and patient privilege is sacrosanct in the American jurisprudence system. The courts have explicitly outlined the access that one should have when requesting medical records. The only person who can waive the doctor and patient privilege is the patient. Since, none of these officers are willing to waive their doctor and patient privilege, the request to obtain this type of personal information is denied. In respect to the training and disciplinary records, the court ruled that the defendant and his council do have the right to review them. However, all personal information relating to the officer’s home addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, and other personal information will be removed before the documents are delivered to the defendant’s council.

The court takes issue with fishing expeditions that are designed merely to delve into the personal lives of the officers who are called on to patrol the streets. Only the documents that are directly relative to the case at hand can be requested. The request for summary judgment from the officers and the police department to dismiss the case was denied since there appeared to be questions of fact that should be presented to a jury.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates with its criminal Lawyers, have convenient offices throughout New York and Metropolitan area. Our police abuse lawyers can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations. Without an excessive force attorney, you could lose precious compensation to help your family.

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