A Minnesota woman who was taking out her trash was attacked by a police dog on the hunt for two burglary suspects—and now she’s suing the dog’s officer, The Washington Post said.
The 5-year-old police dog, Gabe, was allowed to roam on a 20 foot leash at the time of the September attack, according to body cam footage. As the officers chased down the suspects, Gabe ran past a dumpster and bit the right arm of Desiree Collins, 52, refusing to let go.
“Please,” Collins yelled, according to the footage. “Help me!”
Gabe released Collins after 30 seconds of clenching. “What did I do to him?” Collins asked.
“Nothing,” an officer responded. “Just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
But Collins is now filing a federal suit against one of the officers, Thaddeus Schmidt, for the incident.
“What you have here is a completely innocent person taking out their garbage … and a K-9 simply wasn’t controlled,” said attorney Andrew Noel to the Minnesota Star Tribune this week. “It should never have happened.”
Schmidt had been suspended for a day after the incident for keeping Gabe on a long leash, and police officers apologized to Collins for the incident. But now, Schmidt may have to pay damages for Collins’s injuries if she wins her suit.
Collins claims that the dog bit her left leg before lunging onto her arm, and that, because she had her left hand amputated due to a childhood injury, it was hard for her to change her bandages.
The lawsuit claims that Schmidt had previously received supervisory counseling after his K-9 bit another person in 2016.
“What happened to Ms. Collins was a terrible accident that should not have occurred,” wrote St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell in a statement. “I am sorry it happened and that she was injured. As a department, we wish we could go back and do things differently. Unfortunately, we can’t. What we can do is apologize and take responsibility.”
St. Paul police paid a $2.2 million settlement earlier this year over another attack by a K-9, and last year, the city paid $200,000 after a K-9 bit a woman in her backyard.
Both Schmidt and Gabe, the dog, are still on duty, but were required to undergo a month-long training.
[Image: St. Paul Police Bodycam]