Bitten By A Police Dog … Can I Sue?In specific situations the use of canines by law enforcement personnel is allowable in the State of California. Often, police dogs are called upon specifically to help officers locate drugs during searches for narcotics and even chase down and assist in apprehending criminal suspects. However, at times, a run in with a police K-9 could lead to a mauling by the dog. Individuals have sustained serious injuries after being chased and bitten by a police canine. The fact is if a K-9 police dog has viciously attacked someone in California, that person could have a legal case, even if he or she is suspected to have committed a criminal act. Suing the police for misconduct involving a K-9 can be more complicated than taking an everyday dog owner to court, however, since police officers are permitted to use dogs while carrying out their duties. The good news is, though, that a skilled criminal defense attorney often is able to prove unreasonable conduct by the police, specifically the use of excessive force via a K-9 if serious injuries resulted from a police dog attack.

Police K-9s Can Be Dangerous

While cops claim the use of police dogs can be extremely helpful, it also is documented that these K-9s can cause serious harm. In the 2003 California case of Miller v. Clark County, the suspect sustained severe injuries – some bone deep – in multiple places during an attack by a police dog. The injuries required hospitalization and surgery.

Police K-9s have been known to cause injuries, and even death, for decades, but they still are frequently used. The 1988 California case, Robinette v. Barnes, specifically involved the death of a robbery suspect, Daniel Briggs, who bled to death after a police dog apprehended him by the neck, under a vehicle. He was pronounced dead on arrival.

Police Dog Use Could Be Excessive Force

If one decides to sue a police department for police misconduct involving a K-9, the court will consider if the use of the police dog was appropriate given the circumstances of the case. The court also will contemplate if the force by the K-9 was reasonable in that specific situation. The victim may be compensated for his injuries in accordance with his or her constitutional rights provided in the Fourth Amendment, which protects individuals from excessive seizures and unreasonable police conduct. In general, police dog force may be excessive if the attack and injuries sustained by the individual are not justifiable for how urgent the arrest had to be made. Typically, a judge or jury will evaluate the crime the victim allegedly was involved in; how important it was for the suspect to be seized; the injuries sustained; and what other, non violent, approaches the police officer could have tried first.

Contact My Office

Are you a victim of abuse by a police K-9? Has a loved one sustained serious injuries from a canine being used by a police department in California? To find out if you or a loved one has a viable claim against a California police department, contact my office for a free consultation to learn how I may be able to assist in a lawsuit involving excessive force by a police K-9.