Local Police Dog Attack May Prove Costly to City
Victim’s Lawyer Will “Do What He Is Supposed to Do”
BY JONATHAN TURLEY
Originally published on jonathanturley.org 09/04/13
Police Dog Attacks Man Working Late at Restaurant—Police Chief Declines to Apolo-gize, Says Dog “Did What He Was Supposed to Do”
Some jurisdictions have curtailed or even eliminated K-9 teams due to liability—reducing the majority of dogs to drug and bomb sniffing units. That is clearly not the case in Livingston, Montana. Mark Dema-line, who cooks at the Park Place Tavern, was attacked late at night in his workplace when police found a door unlocked after hours and sent in a police dog named Bobi. What is most astonishing is not just the lack of an apology by police but the insistence of Chief of Police Darren Raney that the dog “did what he was supposed to do.”
After the restaurant closed, Demaline did what he often did after work. He went next door to the Liv-ingston Bar and Grille for a drink and then returned around 2:00 a.m. to retrieve his laptop to go home. He made himself a quick salad for a late night snack and was heading to the door when he ran into Bobi. At first, he said “Hey, puppy” and tried to greet it. He says the dog attacked and lunged for his thigh. When he tried to grab Bobi’s collar, the dog went for his wrists. The dog bit him deeply in the thigh and brought him to the floor as the officer yelled for him to put his hands above his head —a difficult proposition with a dog clamped on your thigh.
The police forced Demaline to his feet painfully and pushed him out the restaurant in handcuffs. Then left him in handcuffs as they called the owner to confirm that he worked there. He was then taken to the hospital for the deep bites and a laceration on his back from when he fell.
In the aftermath of the attack, Raney did not appear to see a need for an apology and stated [according to the Livingston Enterprise], “It’s acceptable for the dog to confront anybody in the business at that hour…When the dog finds somebody in the building, he’s going to secure him, and that’s what happened…He did what he was supposed to do.”
The Chief could not be stating a better case for a lawsuit. It is hardly unheard of for a person to be working late at a bar or restaurant, particularly with a bar just closing next door. While the police say that they called into the business, sending in a dog off leash is an extreme measure. While these dogs are trained to immobilize a person, there have been many lawsuits showing that many trained animals suddenly attack.
In the absence of an apology, perhaps Demaline will find some solace in a damage award.
It is clear that this is a police department badly in need of some legal corrective action. It is hard to believe that this tiny town has such a crime wave as to need this type of extreme enforcement measure. However, the town may now have to face the costs of excessive police action if Demaline sues, as he should, for this severe injury. To paraphrase the Chief, it is necessary for Demaline’s lawyer “to do what he is supposed to do.”
From jonathanturely.org (this op-ed ran online in early September (citing the Livingston Enterprise) as did many other posts on the incident). Reprinted here with direct permission from Jonathan Turley.
Jonathan Turley is a nationally recognized legal scholar whose articles on legal issues appear regularly in publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Professor Turley appears regularly as a legal expert on the major television networks and works under contract as the on-air Legal Analyst for NBC News and CBS News.
The dog did NOT do what he was supposed to do, dogs do what they are trained to do; and it was the police officer that did not do what he was supposed to do, like use common sense and understand that in a restaurant there are often people working at any hour of the morning, prepping for the next day. I grew up working in restaurants and bars…it was not unusual for me to be cleaning a kitchen at 3:30 a.m. —Tony C
This dog was trained to do exactly what it did. I’d love to see the department policy on this as well as the training given the dog by the trainer. If I was the county/city I’d open the check book and say this is what we have to settle this matter. The guys going to need rehab therapy on his legs, more than likely. —Anonymous
Livingston, Montana, has a population of just over 7,000. Is it really necessary for a little town of that size to have a police dog? Is that cost-effective…? —Lou-John