TACOMA, WA – On Mar. 25, 2015, the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Civil Division won a lawsuit filed in federal court. The plaintiff accused a Pierce County Sheriff’s deputy of using excessive force when the plaintiff, who was being arrested on a felony warrant, ran from the police. He was bitten by a K-9 police dog as he ran. He asked for unspecified damages for medical expenses, loss of income and emotional distress.
“We take strong stands against baseless lawsuits,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.
On Feb. 6, 2011, deputies arrived at a home near Puyallup to arrest the plaintiff on a felony warrant. Deputies asked for K-9 assistance because the plaintiff was known to run from police. Two deputies went to the front of the home, while another deputy and his K-9 partner went to the backyard. When deputies knocked on the front door, there was a delay before one of the occupants answered and told the deputies that the plaintiff was in the basement. They went downstairs and searched several empty rooms, but the deputies were unable to locate the plaintiff. Then they heard one of the occupants yell, “Run, Ron, run!”
The plaintiff ran out the backdoor, making his way towards the woods. In order to quickly apprehend him and avoid a chase into the woods, a deputy released his K-9. The dog was able to apprehend the plaintiff, biting him once on the arm. The K-9 was called off within seconds and medics were called to the scene.
The plaintiff claimed that the officers used excessive force and were also liable under Washington’s Dog Bite Law. According to the plaintiff’s evolving story, he was not fleeing from police, but was either going out for a smoke, getting some fresh air, or checking the back door to see who was knocking on the front door. He also claimed the deputy should have made an announcement prior to releasing the K-9.
The jury deliberated for less than an hour and returned a defense verdict, finding that the deputy used reasonable force and there was no liability under Washington’s Dog Bite Law.
Communications and Public Information Coordinator
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office