Police Dog Bites Sleeping Woman & San Diego Officers Used ‘Reasonable Force’ Ruling States

federal appeals court on Tuesday found that San Diego police used reasonable force when they released a dog during a late-night search for a potential burglar in a Pacific Beach office building, resulting in a bite injury to an employee sleeping on her sofa.

In its 10-1 ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals emphasized the right of police officers to protect themselves from a potential threat and how the circumstances at the building the night of Feb. 11, 2010, reasonably suggested a burglary was in progress.pdog

The ruling overturns an opinion reached last year by a three-member panel of the 9th Circuit. It also adds to a growing body of case law pertaining to the use of dogs in police work.

“The court found that the officers acted reasonably, used appropriate force, and were justified in protecting themselves when responding to an uncertain and potentially dangerous situation in a dark office building,” the City Attorney’s Office said in a statement Tuesday.

The lawyers representing the bite victim, Sara Lowry, plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is a very important case in the current state of police relations with the general citizenry and the United States right now, and how police use force,” said Nathan Shaman, one of her San Diego-based attorneys. “We think that the majority definitely got it wrong considering the use of bite-and-hold technique in this case did not violate our client’s rights.”

Lowry, who worked for a data consulting firm, sued the San Diego Police Department alleging the city’s “find-and-bite” dog policy to locate and hold suspects caused an excessive use of force. She did not sue the officers individually.

Lowry had gone out for drinks with friends and returned to her office, where she fell asleep. At one point, she got up to use the restroom in a neighboring office suite and then went back to sleep. Her trip unknowingly set off the building’s alarm around 11 p.m., prompting officers to investigate.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 3188 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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  • Bailey Croft

    Totally ridiculous. That’s like firing a gun into a dark warehouse because you found an open door and then being absolved of the three murders you just did.

    Police are now allowed to risk anyone else’s life around them, no matter how recklessly, if they can loosely claim it was to protect themselves. What “heroes”.