K-9 Bite Incident Proceeds to Trial

U.S. District Judge orders trial in lawsuit against Pierce County Sheriff’s Department K-9 handler.

Pierce County's efforts to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a woman who was attacked by a police dog were rejected again by a federal judge, reported an article in The Seattle Times.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ordered that Jenni Ellis’ lawsuit against the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and K-9-handler Deputy Levi Redding proceed to trial, the article noted.

The central issue is whether the using the police K-9 was an unlawful seizure and if the force used was justified, an article on Hoodline reported. The judge refused to dismiss Ellis’ allegations of illegal seizure, excessive force and negligence, saying a jury should decide questions about the deputy’s credibility and actions, according to the article.

The incident in question occurred in March 2019 when deputies responded to a domestic violence call involving Ellis, reported the Hoodline article. The report shares Ellis hid under a boat trailer during the incident, where she was bitten by K-9 Zepp.

Ellis' boyfriend's noted in a deposition that a deputy was overheard saying they would "teach [Ellis] a lesson," the article noted. This has led to accusations that the K-9 was intentionally used as a form of punishment, Hoodline reported.

According to the article, the county maintains the deputy was speaking only of his intent to take Ellis into custody, not to have her bitten by the dog.   

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