Police dogs are a common part of the larger police force in many cities, and their role is to assist officers in controlling the situation and detaining individuals in a manner that is safe for law enforcement.
However, officers are required to exhaust other options first before they release a police dog, and failure to do so or the decision to utilize a police dog when one is not required can leave the police liable for an injury claim by the victim of the police dog injury. To understand whether you have a case, be sure to speak with an attorney and document the facts as thoroughly as you can remember them.
The Use Of K-9 Units
Police dogs are commonly called K-9 units as an abbreviation of the word “canine.” A variety of breeds can be used in the police force, but the Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd are the two most common selections for K-9s due to their physical and behavioral attributes.
Both of these animals are sturdy, hardy and capable of delivering a bite force of nearly 200 pounds per square inch. This is sufficient to break bones, and their streamlined bodies can carry them faster than their humans can typically run, which means that they are commonly used to pursue and stop a fleeing individual.
K-9s are also frequently utilized in situations that officers deem as dangerous, providing law enforcement with some distance and control until they are able to fully subdue the individual.
Typically, officers are required to announce the presence of a police K-9 unit on the scene and clarify when they intend to release the animal. These warnings are an important part of the standard process for using a K-9, and failure to warn a suspect that a K-9 unit is entering the situation may constitute an officer progressing too quickly through the scale of potential resolutions to the situation.
Do Canines Qualify As Excessive Force?
K-9 units are a significant segment of law enforcement, but their officers are responsible for their actions. While they may provide some safety and speed for police, it is still possible that someone who was bitten by a police dog may have a case for excessive force and may seek compensation for their injuries.
Not all releases of a K-9 unit are justified; the officer has a duty to exhaust other options first, such as verbally resolving a dispute. Officers who release a K-9 unit immediately without justified reason or who elect to utilize a K-9 in lieu of a less aggressive option may be liable for an excessive force claim.
However, the legal precedent indicates that some instances justify the use of a K-9, which is why it is important to work with a legal professional in your case.
Does A Conviction Change The Possible Legal Actions?
If you have been injured by a police dog, you may wonder if there is even any point in reaching out for legal counsel if you have actually been convicted of the crime for which the K-9 unit was utilized.
However, whether or not the K-9 officer was justified is a separate issue from your guilt or innocence in a crime, and you may still have a case to seek compensation for your injuries regardless of whether you were actually convicted. Police dogs can break bones, cause severe lacerations and have been linked to some cases of fatality as a direct result of injuries caused by the K-9 units.
As many as two-thirds of individuals who are the victim of a K-9 attack are admitted to the hospital for their injuries. Just because you were convicted of the crime for which you were arrested and the K-9 unit deployed does not mean that your potential excessive force or injury case is invalid.
Reach Out To The Brown Firm About Your Police Dog Injury
If you have suffered a police dog injury, you may have a case for excessive force, even if you were later convicted of the crime for which the K-9 unit was used. These incidents are separate, and it is wise to reach out for legal advice as soon as possible after the event so that critical documentation such as medical reports and injury pictures can be collected.
Victims of K-9 units may be able to pursue compensation from the police department and hold them accountable for their behavior. The lawyers at The Brown Firm would be happy to help you evaluate whether your K-9 encounter qualified as excessive force; reach out to schedule a consultation today.