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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Man Bites Dog, Sues Cops

PHOENIX (CN) - A man claims he had every right to bite a police dog on the nose because it bit him first. Erin Sullivan, who was hiding in a dog house, sued Phoenix and Glendale police in a civil rights complaint.

Sullivan was arrested on March 19, 2010, after fleeing from police on foot, he says in his complaint in Maricopa County Court. He says he eluded Glendale cops "by hopping over fences," but knew the jig was up when Phoenix police helped out with a helicopter and a police dog.

"Erin found a hiding spot under a little dog house he pulled over himself," the complaint states. "He heard officers walk by him. He got out of the dog house and moved about twenty feer when he heard the helicopter and heard instruction to 'freeze.'"

Realizing that "he could not escape from the helicopter," he says, he "stopped, got on his knees and had his hands behind his head."

Then, Sullivan said, defendant Officer Bryan Welsh "came around the corner and appeared to be surprised to see Erin."

Other officers arrived and drew their guns, he says, and he was "told to move backwards 'slowly' from the object he was kneeling in front of. As he began to move backwards on his knees as instructed, Officer Welsh let the dog loose."

Sullivan claims the dog bit him three or four times, injuring him so severely he needed 40 staples to seal the wounds.

"When the dog went for Erin's neck area, Erin felt his life was in danger and hit and bit the dog on its nose," he says.

That caused Welsh to call the dog off and spray Sullivan in the face with pepper spray, he says.

He was taken to the Glendale City Jail, where he says he was not immediately provided with medical care for his diabetes and other problems.

Sullivan says he had a diabetic seizure almost immediately upon being jailed in a cell.

He seeks punitive damages for negligence, excessive force, and constitutional violations. He sued the Cities of Phoenix and Glendale, Officer Welsh and three other police officers.

He is represented by Keith Knowlton.

Follow @jamierossCNS
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