Police Dog Attack Leads to Policy Changes in St. Paul
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Days after a Minnesota man was mistakenly bitten by a police dog that broke free from its handler, city leaders in St. Paul said Monday they're putting heavier restrictions on when police K-9s can be used and ordering an investigation into the unit.
Police said they were responding to calls of a person with a gun early Friday in the city's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood. St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders said officers ordered the man, who was not a suspect, to stay on the ground while they continued searching. The dog's collar later broke and the animal bit the man on his forearm.
The Star Tribune identified the man as Glenn Slaughter, 33, who was hospitalized after the encounter.
Body camera video of the incident shows the dog suddenly running from the officer toward a man on the ground. The officer yells "No! No! No!" The bite itself cannot be seen on the video, but the man is heard groaning as officers try to get the dog to release.
The department recently tightened its rules on when police can use K-9s to apprehend suspects amid growing concerns of bystanders getting bit following a pair of high-profile police dog bitings. But the latest incident is spurring even more limits on when they can be deployed.
The new changes require police to get approval from a superior officer before using K-9s in many cases, shorter leads for dogs and regular inspections of the dog's equipment, among other rules.
"Last week's incident involving a Saint Paul police canine is very disturbing, especially viewed in the context of other events that have occurred over the past two years," said Mayor Melvin Carter in a statement Monday.
Last year, the city paid $2 million to settle a lawsuit against a man who was mistakenly bit by a police dog, severely damaging his leg. In September, Desiree Collins was taking out her garbage when a police dog attacked her while looking for a male suspect. A pending lawsuit she filed seeks financial damages and changes to the department's K-9 policy.
Police Chief Todd Axtell said he expects the audit will begin next month, and a statement by the department said "nothing will be off limits."
"Our goal is to determine what is working, what we can improve and how we minimize risk to the people we serve as well as officers," Axtell said.