If you have ever been attacked, bitten or chased by a ferocious dog, you know how terrifying it is.
It’s no less frightening if the dog happens to work for cops. Encounters with K-9 police dogs can result in extensive injuries and lasting trauma. Even death.
If a K-9 police dog has mauled you, you might have a legal case. Our California Civil Rights Lawyers represent victims of all types of police abuse, including police abuse involving dogs. We know how to negotiate with prosecutors and talk to juries.1
This article is an introduction to the law surrounding police dog abuse. If you have questions after reading it, we invite you to contact our California Civil Rights Lawyers for a consultation.
This article covers:
- 1. When are police allowed to use dogs against a suspect?
- 2. When are police dogs considered excessive force?
- 3. What about dog bite statutes?
- 4. Can I bring a lawsuit?
You might also be interested in our related articles police misconduct and civil rights violations, prison and jail abuse and racial profiling.
1. When are police allowed to use dogs against a suspect?
It is legal under certain circumstances for cops to use K-9 police dogs in law enforcement work.
In Los Angeles, K-9 dogs are considered “multi-functional assets.” Officers are authorized to use them in a range of activities, including
- narcotics searches and
- suspect apprehensions.2
The Los Angeles Police Department K-9 Platoon employs 22 canines, consisting of
- two tracking and trailing bloodhounds,
- four gun detection dogs and
- 16 service dogs.
The platoon also includes
- Belgium Malinois,
- Dutch Shepherds and
- German Shepherds.3
Belgium Malinois have higher bite ratios than German Shepherds, according to a 2006 Florida police dog bite study.4
That study also referred to earlier research that concluded both the LAPD and the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department
“suffer from unacceptably high bite ratios, which for some individual canine officers exceeded 80%.”5
Speed, courage, strength
Police officers find dogs helpful because of their speed, strength and acute sense of smell. The Ninth Circuit summarized these canine traits in a case involving a K-9 police dog used to seize a suspect hiding on dark rural property:
Deputy Bylsma knew that a trained police dog could be trusted to neutralize the many strategic advantages that Miller had obtained by crouching in the darkness in a remote and unbounded landscape. Deputy Bylsma knew of the keen nose, acute vision, stealthy speed, natural courage, and lupine strength of the German Shepherd – qualities at the service of the dog’s fine instincts and careful training.6
Powerful jaws and sharp teeth
For all of their helpful (to cops) attributes, police dogs are dangerous and even lethal weapons, with bite pressure of 1,500 to 1,800 pounds per square inch.
In the case described above, the suspect ended up with severe injuries:
Miller’s skin was torn in four places above the elbow, and the muscles underneath were shredded. Miller’s biceps muscle was “balled up” in the antecubital space. His brachialis muscle – the muscle closest to the bone and alongside the brachialis artery – was torn. Miller’s injury went as deep as the bone. He underwent surgery by an orthopedic surgeon and spent several days in the hospital. Miller continues to suffer lingering effects from the dog bite.7
Police dogs have caused serious injuries in other cases, too, leading to operating rooms and hospital stays. People suspected of mere traffic violations have been mauled and mangled by canine fighters often trained to view the bite as “reward.”8
A police dog even killed a suspect in Ohio.9
2. When are police dogs considered excessive force?
Just as cops can use force in the form of tasers or pepper spray or guns in furtherance of their duties, they also can use K-9 dogs, so long as the use of that force is reasonable under the circumstances.10
If police dog force is unreasonable (or “excessive”), the officer may be liable for violating the victim’s Fourth Amendment constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.
Excessive force analysis
Police dog force is excessive when the nature and quality of the intrusion (the attack and resulting injury) are not justified by the governmental interest at stake (the urgency of making the arrest).
Excessive force considerations
Every case is different and has its own unique facts and circumstances. Though while any given case may come out differently, here are some questions a judge or jury might ask in evaluating the reasonableness of police dog force:
- What kind of crime was the victim suspected of? Was it a minor offense, like a traffic infraction, or something major, like an armed robbery?
- How important was it that the suspect is captured right away?
- Was the suspect a danger to himself or others? Were they armed or did the cops have reason to believe they were armed?
- Was the suspect just hiding or was the suspect actively fleeing or resisting arrest?
- What kind of injuries did the suspect sustain from the dog? Were they life-threatening?
- Did the suspect surrender quickly? Or did the suspect harass, provoke or fight with the dog?
- Did the cops issue a warning before siccing the dog on the suspect?
- Did the dog bite the suspect once or multiple times?
- How long did the dog hold the bite? Was it a short bite, like 4 seconds, or a long bite, like over a minute?
- Was the dog crazy and out of control, or did the dog obey the cop and release on command?
- How likely was it that the cops could use other, less violent means, to apprehend the suspect?
- Did the cop act with malice and order the dog to maul the suspect for no reason?11
Let’s look at a case from Los Angeles:
Example: A Los Angeles police officer stopped Thane Chew for a traffic violation in an industrial neighborhood. Everything went smoothly for a few minutes, with Chew calmly exiting his vehicle upon request and handing over identification documents. The officer did not appear worried about violence, as he did not bother to frisk Chew for weapons. The officer told Chew to stay put while he returned to his patrol car to “check something.”
Chew suddenly remembered that he had outstanding felony warrants. Fearing arrest, he fled. He ran into a nearby junkyard and hid between dumpsters.
Chew was still hiding two hours later.
But the cops had not forgotten about Chew. They were still very much on the case and Chew sensed increasing commotion. In fact, it turned out that by now there were 16 officers, 3 police dogs and a helicopter at the scene.
Chew heard a shout but could not hear the words (it was a warning). Next thing Chew knew, a German Shepherd had its powerful jaws clamped on his arm and the animal was dragging Chew out from the dumpsters. The pain was excruciating and Chew grabbed a pipe and hit the dog in self-defense, even while he was trying to surrender.
The dog’s handler (who was out of the dog’s sight) finally appeared and, after kicking Chew a few times (to protect the dog), commanded the dog to release Chew. The dog, Volker, did release Chew but he was left with deep lacerations and an almost severed arm.
Excessive force? A jury could find unreasonable and thus excessive force in this case. Chew’s injuries were grave. It is true that he had outstanding felony warrants. Though at the time the officers did not know what kind of warrants were at issue (they could have been for nonviolent offenses) and the particular offense for which he was stopped was a mere traffic violation. Chew did not appear to be armed or to pose an immediate threat to anyone. Given the massive police response, there were other ways Chew could be captured.
The City of Los Angeles might also be liable as well as the dog handler. This would be the case if the jury decides that the city has an unreasonable dog force policy and that such policy caused the chain of events that led to Chew’s mauling.12
What about deadly force?
If police dogs can kill suspects, are they considered weapons of deadly force like firearms?
This is an important question because cops are not allowed to use deadly force against a fleeing suspect who poses no danger to anyone.13
So far, courts have generally not found trained police dogs to constitute deadly force, even though they have not foreclosed the possibility that police dogs could under certain circumstances be found to constitute deadly force.14
This is true even though K-9 police dogs clearly pose grave risks to suspects and bystanders and can be considered “deadly weapons” under California criminal law.15
3. What about dog bite statutes?
You might have heard about the dog bite statute that makes people liable for injuries caused by their dogs.16 This statute generally will not be relevant in police dog bite cases, as there is an exception for police dogs biting suspects.
However, the statute might apply and form a basis of civil liability if the police dog bites someone other than the suspect, like the
- victim or
- an innocent bystander.17
The statute also might apply if the police department at issue has not adopted a properly written policy on K-9 police dog use.
Similarly, police dog bites generally will not lead to criminal liability under California Penal Code Section 399.5 PC. That statute provides for criminal liability of owners for certain dog attacks but makes an exception for police dogs while they are working.18
Though the statute might apply if a police dog bites someone
- outside of the course of its work or
- while it is “off duty.”
Finally, note that it is a serious crime to “willfully, maliciously and with no legal justification” harm a police dog. If you hurt a police dog in this way, you could
- go to jail or prison time and/or
- pay a fine.19
4. Can I bring a lawsuit?
If a K-9 police dog bites or mauls you, you might be able to bring a case for damages under the federal civil rights statute 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 for violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.20 Chew used this statute to sue for his injuries caused by the police dog Volker.
Section 1983 gives you the right to sue a cop and their bosses and department in certain cases involving excessive force.
Police dog victims do not win in every case, but large damages are possible. One man won almost two million dollars in a case in which he was bitten by a police dog and attacked by police.
Four men who were bitten by the Irvington, New Jersey police dog, Bullet, ultimately settled for $115,000.
Police dog bites were so plentiful in Los Angeles in 1995 that the City Council set aside $2.6 million to settle claims.21
Our California Civil Rights Lawyers can discuss your case with you and explain your best options for recovery.
Multi-functional assets and mixed emotions
Police dogs evoke a range of emotions.
On one hand, most of us have great affection for “man’s best friend.” We consider our pets members of our families. We appreciate dogs’ ability to protect us from harm and assist law enforcement in
- search and rescue, and
- critical arrest situations.
Who would not commend the valor of a dog that nabs a criminal or feels sadness when a K-9 platoon member dies or is wounded in the line of duty?
But at the same time, who does not fear a vicious dog or cringe when a worthy animal is used as a weapon of terror? Who is not angered when police officers use dogs or any other weapon in a careless or excessive manner? It’s unfair to the public and to the dog.
As with any potentially lethal weapon, K-9 dogs raise questions.
- What happens if the dog makes a mistake and attacks the wrong person?
- What if the suspect surrenders but the dog does not?
- What if the dog does not obey its handler? Or the handler does not obey the law?
- What if the handler sics the dog on someone out of meanness just to cause fear and pain?
- What are the rules involving police use of dogs to chase, attack and capture suspects?
- When do police dogs cross the line from law enforcement tools to excessive force and police brutality?
We can hope K-9 dogs are used responsibly and in a manner befitting their considerable talents and equally considerable place in our hearts.
Though we can also use the law to ensure this. Given the unpredictable nature of animals – and of the humans who train and handle them – we’ll have to stay “on watch” as long as dogs stay “on duty.”
For additional help…
If you or a loved one has been abused by the police K-9 units and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a consultation in the office or by phone.
We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.
Injured in Nevada? See our article on suing for police dog bites in Nevada.
- Our California Civil Rights Lawyers have local offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, San Diego, San Francisco, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.
- Section 571 of the Los Angeles Police Department Manual provides: “Police dogs are a multi-functional asset of the Los Angeles Police Department. Police dogs may be used in appropriate circumstances to assist officers in the search for criminal suspects; the detection and location of narcotics and/or explosives; and the location of missing adults or juveniles. Supervisors or officers at the scene of a police incident may request the assistance of a police dog and shall be responsible for determining if the dog is to be used. When a police dog is deployed, the dog handler shall be solely responsible for the control and direction of the dog. Police dogs may be used: In the detection, control, and apprehension of a suspect when there is a reasonable suspicion of the suspect’s involvement in criminal activity; In the search of buildings and large areas for suspects; In the investigation of a crime or possible crime; In searches for narcotics and/or narcotic paraphernalia; In searches for explosives and/or explosive devices; or, In criminal and non-criminal incidents to assist in the search for missing juveniles or adults. Police dogs are employed to assist officers in the performance of their duties. In appropriate circumstances, police dogs may be used to defend peace officers and others from imminent danger at the hands of an assailant, and may defend themselves from annoying, harassing, or provoking acts.”
- LAPD Media Relations Handbook, 2008.
- Charlie Mesloh, Barks or Bites? The Impact of Training on Police Canine Force Outcomes, published in Police Practice and Research (September 2006), 333. The study compared bite ratios from “bark and hold” maneuvers versus “bite and hold” maneuvers and concluded – contrary to prevailing thought – that the former actually results in higher bite ratios than the latter. (“Therefore, the data suggest that the current model of ‘bite and hold’ is less damaging than shifting to the ‘bark and hold’ paradigm. This is reassuring as the impact upon the canine community would be staggering if this were not the case. This finding is of significant importance as it does not support the position of both the [Department of Justice] and [International Association of Chiefs of Police].” Id at 334, italics added)
- Id at 326.
- Miller v. Clark County (9th Cir. 2003) 340 F.3d 959.
- Watkins v City of Oakland (9th Cir. 1998) 145 F.3d 1087 [police dog bite victim sustained severe lacerations, fractures and tendon damage necessitating two skin graft surgeries]; Thompson v. County of Los Angeles (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 154 [police dog bite victim sustained hand, leg and backside lacerations, infection, loss of control of one foot, tissue loss, deformities and immobilizing scar tissue; he spent four days in regular hospital and a month in jail hospital] See Mesloh, Bark or Bites?, supra at 325 (“A great deal of training is required to maintain ‘bark and hold’ dogs. If this training is not adequate, the dog will begin to bite when it is not warranted (Eden, 1993). As a result of training methods, the dog may also perceive the bite as the reward for apprehending the suspect. When this happens, the dog will precipitate the movement of the suspect by bumping them, thus fulfilling the requirements necessary for a ‘proper’ bite. This will greatly increase the number of inappropriate bites and have exactly the opposite effect sought by the DOJ.”)
- Robinette v. Barnes (6th Cir. 1988) 854 F.3d 909 [commercial robbery suspect bled to death after police dog bit him on the neck] (“Eventually, Barnes [the officer] followed Casey [the dog] into a darkened bay area of the car dealership. His flashlight revealed that Casey had the suspect’s neck in his mouth. The man was lying face down on the floor with half of his body underneath a car. He did not move. A substantial amount of blood had collected around him and more was oozing from his neck. Barnes ordered Casey to come to him, leashed the dog and then called for an ambulance. The suspect, Daniel Briggs, was pronounced dead on arrival.”)
- Graham v. Connor (1989) 490 U.S. 386 (“Determining whether the force used to effect a particular seizure is “reasonable” under the Fourth Amendment requires a careful balancing of ‘the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests’ against the countervailing governmental interests at stake. Our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has long recognized that the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop necessarily carries with it the right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat thereof to effect it…. its proper application requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.” Id at 396)
- Mendoza v. Block (9th Cir. 1994) 27 F.3d 1357 [no constitutional violation where police dog bit hiding bank robbery suspect after warnings] (“We do not believe that a more particularized expression of the law is necessary for law enforcement officials using police dogs to understand that under some circumstances the use of such a “weapon” might become unlawful. For example, no particularized case law is necessary for a deputy to know that excessive force has been used when a deputy sics a canine on a handcuffed arrestee who has fully surrendered and is completely under control. An officer is not entitled to qualified immunity on the grounds that the law is not clearly established every time a novel method is used to inflict injury.”)
- Chew v. Gates (9th Cir. 1994) 27 F.3d 1432, 1444. (“There is little doubt that a trier of fact could find that Chew’s injury was caused by city policy. In the district court, the city conceded, for purposes of summary judgment, the truth of Chew’s contention that departmental policy authorized seizure of all concealed suspects – resistant or nonresistant, armed or unarmed, violent or nonviolent – by dogs trained to bite hard and hold. Construing city policy as the appellee concedes we must, it doubtless could be found to be the “moving force” behind Chew’s injury. Bunch released Volker because his superiors instructed him that he was authorized to do so under the circumstances of Chew’s case. The instructions were based on what we assume to be city policy. Accordingly, we must reverse the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the City of Los Angeles.”) See also Monell v. Department of Social Services (1978) 436 U.S. 658 [establishing “municipal liability” for Section 1983 claims where city policy or custom is moving force behind constitutional injury]
- Tennessee v. Garner (1985) 471 U.S. 1, 12 [unarmed teenage burglary suspect shot in back and killed while fleeing over fence] (“The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so. It is no doubt unfortunate when a suspect who is in sight escapes, but the fact that the police arrive a little late or are a little slower afoot does not always justify killing the suspect. A police officer may not seize an unarmed, nondangerous suspect by shooting him dead. The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against such fleeing suspects. It is not, however, unconstitutional on its face. Where the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others, it is not constitutionally unreasonable to prevent escape by using deadly force. Thus, if the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm, deadly force may be used if necessary to prevent escape, and if, where feasible, some warning has been given. As applied in such circumstances, the Tennessee statute would pass constitutional muster.”) And see Chew v. Gates, supra, 27 F.3d 1432, 1452, Judge Norris’ concurrence (“If the use of the LAPD dogs constitutes the use of deadly force, Garner would stand in the way of defendants’ motion for summary judgment because the LAPD canine policy would be unconstitutional, as the Tennessee statute was unconstitutional, for permitting the use of deadly force to prevent the escape of felony suspects who do not pose `a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”)
- Smith v. Hemet (9th Cir. 2005) 394 F.3d 689 [court overrules prior deadly force definition and adopts Model Penal Code version that includes a “substantial risk of serious bodily injury” and clarifies that defendant’s resisting arrest guilty plea was not effectively nullified by finding that same altercation involved constitutional rights violation in case in which domestic violence suspect was kicked, bit and pepper sprayed during arrest] (“We need not here determine whether the use of a police dog to subdue a suspect constitutes deadly force generally or the circumstances under which such use might constitute such force. Having announced the definition of “deadly force” we leave to the district court the first opportunity to apply the concept to the facts of this case. We note only that while we have not in any of our prior cases found that the use of police dogs constituted deadly force, we have never stated that the use of such dogs cannot constitute such force.”) See also Thompson v. County of Los Angeles (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 154 [suspect bitten by police dogs sues for federal and state constitutional violations] (“Accordingly, Smith does not require that we depart from the great weight of authority that use of a trained police dog does not constitute deadly force.”) Note that two recent law review notes advocate greater scrutiny of police dog bite cases. See Lisa K. Sloman Throw a Dog a Suspect: When Using Police Dogs Becomes an Unreasonable Use of Force Under the Fourth Amendment, 34 Golden Gate U. L. Rev 191, 192 (2004) (“This Note contends that a dog bit lasting up to a minute is excessive force under these circumstances and violated Miller’s Fourth Amendment right against seizures.”) Referring to Miller v. Clark County, supra, 340 F.3d 960. See also Mark Weintraub, A Pack of Wild Dogs? Chew v. Gates and Police Canine Excessive Force, 34 Loy. L. Rev. 937, 938 (2000-2001) (“The typical police dog lawsuit occurs when the detainee is not resisting arrest, not dangerous, not violent, or not the intended suspect, but is bitten anyway. In that context, the dog bite constitutes excessive force and violates the Fourth Amendment guarantee of reasonableness. However, it is this author’s contention that police dogs are per se unreasonable, and therefore, a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Yet, judicial illogic and bias protects police dogs from a fair review.”)
- People v. Nealis (1991) 232 Cal.App.3d Supp. 1 [woman commands her Doberman Pinscher to attack two people] (“We hold that, depending upon the circumstances of each case, a dog trained to attack humans on command, or one without training that follows such a command, and which is of sufficient size and strength relative to its victim to inflict death or great bodily injury, may be considered a `deadly weapon or instrument within the meaning of Section 245.”)
- California Civil Code Section 3342. “(a) The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’ s knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner. (b) Nothing in this section shall authorize the bringing of an action pursuant to subdivision (a) against any governmental agency using a dog in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was defending itself from an annoying, harassing, or provoking act, or assisting an employee of the agency in any of the following: (1) In the apprehension or holding of a suspect where the employee has a reasonable suspicion of the suspect’s involvement in criminal activity. (2) In the investigation of a crime or possible crime. (3) In the execution of a warrant. (4) In the defense of a peace officer or another person. (c) Subdivision (b) shall not apply in any case where the victim of the bite or bites was not a party to, nor a participant in, nor suspected to be a party to or a participant in, the act or acts that prompted the use of the dog in the military or police work. (d) Subdivision (b) shall apply only where a governmental agency using a dog in military or police work has adopted a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of a dog for the police or military work enumerated in subdivision (b).”
- City of Huntington Beach v. City of Westminster (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 220 [both cities mush share equally in $250,000 settlement deriving from a police dog bite of a robbery victim where trial court found neither city negligent]
- California Penal Code Section 399.5. (“(a) Any person owning or having custody or control of a dog trained to fight, attack, or kill is guilty of a felony or a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, if, as a result of that person’s failure to exercise ordinary care, the dog bites a human being, on two separate occasions or on one occasion causing substantial physical injury. No person shall be criminally liable under this section, however, unless he or she knew or reasonably should have known of the vicious or dangerous nature of the dog, or if the victim failed to take all the precautions that a reasonable person would ordinarily take in the same situation. (b) Following the conviction of an individual for a violation of this section, the court shall hold a hearing to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bite or bites have changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal. The court, after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including, but not limited to, the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction if necessary. (c) Nothing in this section shall authorize the bringing of an action pursuant to subdivision (a) based on a bite or bites inflicted upon a trespasser, upon a person who has provoked the dog or contributed to his or her own injuries, or by a dog used in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was actually performing in that capacity. As used in this subdivision, “provocation” includes, but is not limited to, situations where a dog held on a leash by its owner or custodian reacts in a protective manner to a person or persons who approach the owner or custodian in a threatening manner. (d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the liability of the owner of a dog under Section 399 or any other provision of law. (e) This section shall not apply to a veterinarian or an on-duty animal control officer while in the performance of his or her duties, or to a peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, if he or she is assigned to a canine unit.”)
- California Penal Code Section 600. (“(a) Any person who willfully and maliciously and with no legal justification strikes, beats, kicks, cuts, stabs, shoots with a firearm, administers any poison or other harmful or stupefying substance to, or throws, hurls, or projects at, or places any rock, object, or other substance which is used in such a manner as to be capable of producing injury and likely to produce injury, on or in the path of, any horse being used by, or any dog under the supervision of, any peace officer in the discharge or attempted discharge of his or her duties, is guilty of a public offense. If the injury inflicted is a serious injury, as defined in subdivision (c), the person shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two or three years, or in a county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by both a fine and imprisonment. If the injury inflicted is not a serious injury, the person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both a fine and imprisonment. (b) Any person who willfully and maliciously and with no legal justification interferes with or obstructs any horse or dog being used by any peace officer in the discharge or attempted discharge of his or her duties by frightening, teasing, agitating, harassing, or hindering the horse or dog shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not exceeding one year, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both a fine and imprisonment. (c) Any person who, in violation of this section, and with intent to inflict such injury or death, personally causes the death, destruction, or serious physical injury including bone fracture, loss or impairment of function of any bodily member, wounds requiring extensive suturing, or serious crippling, of any horse or dog, shall, upon conviction of a felony under this section, in addition and consecutive to the punishment prescribed for the felony, be punished by an additional term of imprisonment in the state prison for one year. (d) Any person who, in violation of this section, and with the ntent to inflict such injury, personally causes great bodily injury, as defined in Section 12022.7, to any person not an accomplice, shall, upon conviction of a felony under this section, in addition and consecutive to the punishment prescribed for the felony, be punished by an additional term of imprisonment in the state prison for two years unless the conduct described in this subdivision is an element of any other offense of which the person is convicted or receives an enhancement under Section 12022.7. (e) In any case in which a defendant is convicted of a violation of this section, the defendant shall be ordered to make restitution to the agency owning the animal and employing the peace officer for any veterinary bills, replacement costs of the animal if it is disabled or killed, and the salary of the peace officer for the period of time his or her services are lost to the agency.”)
- 42 U.S.C. 1983 (“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.”)
- See also Medina v. City of Culver City (9th Cir. 1996) 100 F.3d 963, UNPUBLISHED OPINION [officer found liable for $95,000 after bench trial in which unreasonable release of police dog on suspect high on PCP precipitated ultimate shooting death of suspect]