Man sues city, police after suffering gruesome dog bites
Published Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:20AM PST
A man who required nearly 100 staples to close wide-open gashes allegedly left on his leg by a Vancouver police dog is suing the city and two constables for damages.
Construction worker Christopher Evans shattered a bus window in frustration on June 12, 2011 after being repeatedly passed by at a transit stop, according to the suit.
The 33-year-old claims he was headed home on his skateboard and listening to headphones when an unleashed police dog suddenly bit his right leg, causing him to fall to the ground.
"With the plaintiff's leg in its grasp the service dog began thrashing, causing considering (sic) ripping and tearing to the skin and muscle tissue of the plaintiff," court documents say.
Evans estimates he was bit five times over the course of at least one minute. He was taken to Vancouver General Hospital, operated on and held overnight.
The Pivot Legal Society, which is representing Evans, released disturbing pictures of the wounds Thursday with a statement from the plaintiff.
"The nurse at the hospital told me it was amazing the dog didn't rupture my artery and kill me," Evans said. "I know it was a stupid decision, and I shouldn't have hit the bus, but the repercussions were way overboard."
The responding officer, Const. Richard Ronald Lee, and service dog trainer Const. Howard Rutter are named in the suit. Vancouver Police Department spokesman Lindsey Houghton said he could not comment on the case while it was before the courts.
Evans was charged with mischief following the arrest, but the single count was eventually stayed by Crown prosecutors.
Pivot says 46 per cent of all reported injuries caused by police in B.C. from March 2011 to January 2012 were dog bites, with similar numbers in 2010. The society is calling on the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner to review the VPD's use of service dogs.
"Right now the deployment of dogs is reminiscent of how often Tasers were being used before we realized just how much harm they could cause," Pivot lawyer Douglas King said in a statement.
"We have to think of the cost of all of this, not only to the person being bitten by the dog but the enormous health care costs spent treating unnecessary injuries."
Pivot says the "bite and hold" method used in Vancouver should be replaced by the less-confrontational "bark and hold" style used in some U.S. cities.