Police Are Not Immune From Suits By Dog Bite Victims

The police department of Montgomery County, Maryland, has been sued for an outrageous misuse of force involving a police dog. The dog seriously mauled an unconscious child on March 17, 2006. The boy had wandered away from a party, not committed or even suspected of a crime. The police officer who was responsible for the dog set it after the boy, knowing that this particular dog was trained to find and bite a person. Find and bite. Not find and threaten, as properly trained dogs will do. Find and bite. So the dog found the unconscious child and bit him for minutes, inflicting serious wounds.

This same dog, handled by this same officer, did this at least one other time. The officer sent the dog after a woman who was in a coma after attempting suicide. The dog mauled the woman so badly that the county agreed to pay her $400,000 to settle her dog bite claim. That was several years ago. The officer did not learn anything from that experience. Nor did the county, because the officer and the dog are still in the employ of the county. 

If a person is mauled by a police dog, the usual dog bite laws do not apply. Nevertheless, an officer and his police agency can be held responsible for unreasonable conduct, such as probably occurred in the case of this boy. (For more about this recent case, read the article. Also see Police Liability for Dog Bites on DogBiteLaw.com)