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Teen bit by police dog during arrest may sue, appeals court rules

September 24, 2012

A man who more than five years ago sustained injuries from police dog bites during his arrest may proceed with a tort claim, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

Marquis Dayvon Brooks and a friend were outside an Anderson teen club in December 2006 when shots were fired and police were called. Sensing trouble, the teens, who had been drinking and smoking marijuana, fled in a vehicle, according to court records.

The car ultimately struck a house, and Brooks and his friend fled. The friend was arrested a short time later, and Anderson police officers deployed a K-9, Rex, that led them to a shed where Brooks was hiding.

Police said Brooks was verbally warned that they were searching with the dog, but Brooks said he surrendered and raised his hands when the shed door was opened, after which an officer ordered the dog to apprehend Brooks.

Brooks was bitten on the arm and scrotum, according to court records.

In 2008, Brooks filed a complaint against the city of Anderson, Anderson Police Department and Officer Chris Barnett, alleging intentional tortuous conduct and negligence. Madison Circuit Judge Rudolph Pyle III granted the city’s motion for summary judgment.

“To be sure, while Officer Barnett and Brooks may not agree on many details of what occurred that night, they do agree that Brooks was on (the) ground when Rex apprehended him, causing severe injury,” Judge John Baker wrote for the unanimous court in Marquis Dayvon Brooks v. Anderson Police Dept., City of Anderson, and Chris Barnett, 48A02-1110-CT-1045.

The appeals court also noted that Anderson had promulgated orders regarding the handling of its police dogs, including a provision that “K-9 handlers will insure that their canines do not engage criminal suspects if they are not resisting, fleeing, or endangering the public’s well being.”

“We conclude that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Officer Barnett used excessive force when he permitted his K-9 partner, Rex, to apprehend Brooks in such a manner that Brooks sustained a severe scrotal laceration,” the court ruled.

“Indeed, even to answer this ultimate question, the fact-finder will be confronted with other factual questions, such as whether Officer Barnett gave a proper warning before entering the shed, whether Officer Barnett had a reasonable belief that Brooks was armed, whether Brooks immediately surrendered when the police entered the shed, and whether Brooks was already secured when Rex was permitted to bite Brooks’s scrotum after biting his arm, just to name a few. But this only bolsters our conclusion that summary judgment was inappropriate under these facts and circumstances.”




 

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