Dean Newhall has filed a claim against the city of Lodi asking for an unspecified sum to cover damages caused by a bite he suffered from a police dog in April. Russell Humphrey, Newhall’s attorney, said his client has lost feeling on the left side of his face and must now deal with a horrible disfigurement as a result of the bite. According to the claim, Newhall has already paid over $32,000 in medical expenses, a number that Humphrey said will only keep increasing.
“When I first saw him the injuries were fresh, and they were very bad injuries,” Humphrey said. “His left side was basically chewed off from below the eye to the nose and all the way down the neck. It’s like a flap of flesh that’s just hanging off of there.”
Newhall allegedly was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident and attacked an officer, stole his baton and attempted to injure him, said Lodi City Attorney Steve Schwabauer. When five other officers responded to the scene at the crossroads of Turner Road and Coloma Street, Newhall resisted arrest.
According to the claim, the officers shot Newhall four times with a Taser, beat him with their batons, grabbed his arms and legs, cuffed his hands behind his back and subdued him by placing the weight of their bodies on him. Newhall was face down on the ground when Bronx, the police dog, bit him. Officials say the dog acted of its own volition.
Schwabauer said Bronx was retired soon after the altercation. Sgt. Chris Jacobson, supervisor of the Lodi Police Department’s K9 Unit, could not be reached for comment.
Schwabauer also said Newhall’s claim against the city would likely be rejected.
“It wasn’t something we would have had the dog do, but in general when you attack and injure a cop and threaten his life, I think you’ve opened yourself up to what comes your way,” Schwabauer added.
If the claim is declined, Newhall will have six months to file a lawsuit, which Humphrey says his client plans on doing.
The scars Newhall bears are a constant reminder of the day he was bitten, and have fostered a fear of police officers and large dogs, Humphrey said. The bite, Humphrey added, may also affect Newhall’s ability to work as his confidence has been hurt.
“It is very emotional for Mr. Newhall, and I do not for the life of me (know) why, with six officers present, not one could hold the dog’s leash or put the dog in the car,” Humphrey said. “The more you think about it, the more absurd it is.”
Contact reporter Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato at firstname.lastname@example.org.