Police defend K-9 in attack on 8-year-old

Staff report


Police say the Friday attack of the department’s police dog, Storm, on an 8-year-old boy was an unfortunate accident, but Storm has done much more good than bad during his time with the department.

The boy, Patrick Assion, was visiting his grandmother’s house in Campbell and playing hide-and-seek with his cousin in the backyard when Storm took hold of Patrick’s arm and dragged him to the ground.

The incident left the boy three physical reminders of the attack: a red mark on his arm, a T-shirt full of holes and a torn-up sweat shirt.

An off-duty Campbell police officer was walking Storm and allowed the dog to go to the bathroom in a fenced-in area. But the dog saw the boy and ran after him, apparently mistaking a running boy for a suspect.

“When I turned my head, it already got snatched onto my arm and threw me down to the ground and started ripping my jacket,” the boy told 21 WFMJ-TV, The Vindicator’s broadcast partner.

“I heard my cousin Patrick scream, and so I ran around the house and I saw the dog tearing up his coat,” Ali Darwish said.

Campbell Police Sgt. John Rusnak said a police dog can’t differentiate between a playing boy and a crime suspect.

“Anything running, they’re trained ... could be a potential threat. And all he’s doing is reacting and doing what he was trained to do,” Rusnak told WFMJ.

The boy’s mother, Angel Assion, faults the officer for not keeping the dog under better control.

“I don’t want that dog to be ever around again,” she said. “Certainly he should never be off of his leash and not under control 100 percent of the time.”

“He has caught three armed robbers. He has located numerous amounts of drugs. He has tracked down suspects. He’s been a vital, vital part of our police department,” Rusnak said of the dog’s history.

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