A 23-year-old Pierce County man claims in a federal civil-rights lawsuit that he was attacked for no reason by K-9 Officer Astor, a large-breed police dog, which has figured in other lawsuit settlements.
A 23-year-old Pierce County man has sued the Lakewood Police Department, claiming he was in mauled in 2012 by a now-retired police dog that has cost the city nearly $250,000 in lawsuit settlements and medical bills.
Kerry Tucker claims in the federal civil-rights lawsuit filed Wednesday that he was attacked for no reason by K-9 Officer Astor, a large-breed police dog.
Astor and his handler, Officer James Syler, had been called to assist in the search for a felony-warrant suspect who had fled a home into a copse not far from the Bates Technical College campus in Tacoma, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
The lawsuit alleges Syler released the dog, which found and attacked Tucker. The claim alleges there were a number of innocent individuals in the area when the search was taking place.
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“Astor continued to maul plaintiff Tucker, using the bite and hold techniques for which he was trained,” the lawsuit said. “Officer Syler did not recall the K-9 until plaintiff Tucker complied with his order to show his hands while he was being badly bitten and mauled by Astor.”
Tucker suffered “severe trauma and permanent injuries to his leg,” the lawsuit said. Photographs provided by Tucker’s attorney, shows Tucker’s leg covered in deep bruises and lacerations.
Lakewood police Assistant Chief Mike Zaro said “the fact pattern as portrayed in the filing is grossly misleading” but otherwise declined to comment.
Astor was retired by the city and sold to Syler for $1 in the fall of 2013. The city has declined to discuss the transaction.
The action was announced, however, just before Syler and Astor were defendants in a federal lawsuit filed by a Noel Saldana, who was severely injured by Astor during an arrest on domestic-violence charges.
The jury found the force used was legal. However, Lakewood agreed to pay more than $42,000 in Saldana’s medical bills. Saldana underwent several surgeries and lost a fist-sized piece of his calf in the incident.
In February 2014, Pierce County paid $225,000 to a Tacoma man, Chad Boyles, who sued Lakewood and the county after he was attacked and bitten by Astor while on a walk in May 2011. Syler and his K-9 partner were assisting the county in searching for a domestic-violence suspect and came across Boyles in a field.
The dog ripped Boyle’s arm to the bone before Syler could call him off, according to the lawsuit.
In 2009, a felon named Richard Conley was paid $15,000 after Astor bit him in the back and arm while he was trying to hide in a bedroom of a house. According to a lawsuit, he required three surgeries and spent nine days in the hospital.
According to information compiled by The Seattle Times in 2013, Washington cities have paid out nearly $1 million in claims for police dog-bite related injuries.