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California man bitten by K-9 settles lawsuit with city

Posted on in Premises Liability

A man who was bitten by a Lodi, California, Police Department K-9 during a 2010 arrest reached a settlement agreement with the city last week. He's being paid $197,000 in addition to $25,000 in medical costs.

The 28-year-old man admits to being combative and under the influence of drugs when he was arrested. But he was already in handcuffs and subdued by police when Bronx the police dog attacked and bit him in the face. The dog was not ordered to attack or bite the man, who was under arrest and facedown when he was bitten. Although he could have behaved better, the man's attorney said, his client didn't deserve the disfiguring dog bite.

The man said after the incident that the bite resulted in numbness and tingling around his mouth, as well as a permanent scar from his nose to his neck. He also reports having constant anxiety any time he's around a police officer or large dog.

The Police Department maintains the officers acted appropriately, but that the dog's presence was neither necessary nor expected. The dog was dispatched after the man was already handcuffed.

The arrest came after officers spotted the man, who was under the influence of drugs and angry about a recent breakup, shouting at people out the window of a friend's car. Police pulled over the car, after which the man climbed out of the sunroof and began to cry. They allowed him to walk home, but later stopped him again as he yelled at drivers passing by. That's when he became combative, said the officers, who used Tasers and batons to bring him under control. Once he was on the ground, the K-9 bit him.

Even during an arrest, bites like this are unwarranted. Although police K-9s are typically very obedient and resourceful, they're still capable of reacting unpredictably in very hectic situations. Fortunately, the Police Department recognized that and justly compensated the victim.

Source: Recordnet.com, "Man bit by K-9 settles lawsuit," Keith Reid, March 2, 2012

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