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

Published: Sun, November 27, 2011 @ 12:05 a.m.

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.


1lilgandee(103 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

The officer in charge of the dog should have had him on a leash. I understand all the good he has done and will do but he is a trained dog who can injure someone intentional or not so control is important. My dog worries me when she darts out the door about biting someone, he was lucky to have his coat on. Please keep control it would be a shame for an honest mistake to affect him negatively anymore.

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2mzfeefee(22 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

lilgandee I agree. The dog is not at fault it is the officer. The dog did what he was trained to do. The officer should be officially reprimanded. What he did was just as dangerous as leaving his loaded service weapon unattended. Thank God the little boy was not severely injured.

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3Aequitas(5 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Leash law applies for everyone. The dog is highly trained, it should have been under command the whole time. I would ask for the money back to train the dog because obviously it is not trained properly. If it was a pitt bull it would have been put down already.

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4southsidedave(5189 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

"Unfortunate Accident" will cost the city money in victim compensation!

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5VindyPost(436 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Responsibility: The Handlers' obedience commands failed: Sit, Stay, Come, Heel, Down. (and many, many more signals "bark and hold", either verbal / non-verbal, etc.) Storm will undergo day-one evals, testing. Re-certifications will be investigated. There are rules, regulations, and obligations to abide while K-9 assistant is on and off duty; as goes for Officer/Handler on and off duty.

A horrific accident a young child experienced who shall be compensated; therefore settled in court....attacking a person, a threat to injure, bodily harm, emotional and mental factors, etc.

Thank goodness this 8 year old survived and medical assessments are good, thus far. He will struggle fear factors.

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6katz557(2 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

The police department's explanation is unacceptable and nothing but an excuse. I have been around law enforcement K9's for years and none of them would ever attack without being given a verbal command to do so. This dog and handler have no business being on the streets if the K9 can not be controlled. Why was the K9 not on a leash? Thank God the child's injuries weren't more severe.

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7MrRight(28 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I thought Campbell's dog's name was Kilo?

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8500mag(2 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

This is a great example of why "Breed Specific Legislation" is total Bullsh!t. If my staffordshire terrier did this the dog would be shot on the spot. But my STAFFORDSHIRE TERRIER would have never ever do this. the Staffordshire Terrier is put in the class of pit bulls under all legislation for banning breeds.

most pitbulls/staffy's would not do this. it is not in their nature to attack people. But a highly trained dog, a police K9 who spent months to a year in dog school, cant even obey a command to stop. this dog has done this kind of stuff to officers during chases also. it is a bad dog. should be changed to a more stable obediant breed like a lab, pit bull, etc.

the officer is at fault obviously, and nothing will happen, just an apology to the family, a little pay out, and the dog will never skip a beat being back on the street immediately. which it is. "oops he cant tell the difference of a little boy playing in his BACKYARD, between a fleeing violent suspect, HUM, does something seem wrong here? but ME and YOU, civillian dog owners, and their dogs are held to a much higher standard for some reason, and we as owners could be charged with violent felonies if our dogs attack some one and god forbid, hurt them.

but the dog that cost the city $50,000-$70,000 to buy and train, should be able to stop chasing if told to. but it doesn't, at very least if one of our dogs (us citizens) bit someone if we are not sued or criminally charged the dog will be put down for sure. being deemed as "never will be able to be around anyone with out the eminent danger of him maiming or killing a person" but this dog can get away with it.

with its history of infractions it should be taken off the force.

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9500mag(2 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

i forgot to mention, in any case of a dog attack, it is not the dogs fault, it is the owner/commander of the dog. its guardian, at all times should have control of their animals. being so nonchalant and cocky that their dog is "good" is totally irresponsible.

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10bobbydear(1 comment)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Once a dog inflicts injury to an innocent person, in this case a child, the dog needs to be put down immediately. The officer could do it right on the spot. We can't have a dog that does not respond to a simple command.

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11robertelegal(2 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

This is absolutely galling. Not one word from these cops regarding the stupidity and bad judgment from this clown who was handling the dog. Not a word. Do these clowns in blue costumes ever admit it when they screw up? This is an outrage and it's extremely lucky that this kid wasn't badly injured. If this had been a mere mundane citizens dog, that dog would no doubt be destroyed and the owner charged. I guess the law doesn't apply to cops. Horrible.

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12theword(342 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

Why hasn't the police chief commented on this incident? The dog handler should be suspended for this incident. There is no difference if he left his loaded gun out and a child grabbed it and shot himself with it. He is responsible for the dog and the dog's actions!!!!!

But hey its Campbell so who cares?

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13MrRight(28 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

I thought the chief did go on the news and talk about it? And 500mag where do you get your infor from? $50-$70k to buy and train teh dog?? How about do a little research before you type something and sound uneducated.

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14robertelegal(2 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

lilgandee: This is not an "honest mistake" It is appalling negligence and poor judgment by a cop who should have known better; a fact completely ignored by this two bit, arrogant police force. It is a miracle that this kid wasn't badly injured. It wasn't an "accident". I'm sure nothing will happen to this poor example of police officer, but make no mistake about it. It was completely the officer's fault and there is no excuse for it.
If that was my kid I'd be camping out at the city attorney's office until proper remedial action was take by the city.
The police response to this near tragedy is childish and irresponsible. Shame on you, Rusnak. Grow up.

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15FormerRes(39 comments)posted 4 years, 7 months ago

So after I kill Sparky the dog for an unprovoked attack on my child IN MY OWN YARD, and then later find out that it is a POLICE dog, am I in trouble?

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16Jennmeuter(1 comment)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

This police officer should have to surrender his dog, be put in jail with a $50,000 bond, get out on house arrest, and be sentenced as a felon. My family had a dog that was inside a locked fenced in our backyard and a little boy hopped my fence and my dog ( not knowing the difference between a burglar and a child) attacked the boy. We had to give them my dog and he was put to sleep ( which my kids still grieve over this and it was 2 years ago) and then my husband was sentenced as a felon and 200 hours of community service. My husband didn't have a prior record and it is now hard for him to find work with this label. At most my husband should have received a misdemeanor but my dog was only doing what it was trained to do. Just as the police say there dog was doing only a police dog should not chase after anyone unless commanded to. The only reason I think no one wants to do more about this is because their police but guess what thy are people too and now this little boy was attacked by an "officer of the law" and that makes it ok? I think not. This little boys family deserves some justice for what happened to their son and I think the above stated is only fair. Please help pass this word along!!!

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17homeinspector(1 comment)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I'm a house inspector for a property management company and this is one of my territories. I had a similar incident. A police officer and his police K-9 lived next door to a vacant house we were managing. The officer regularly parked his patrol car in my house's driveway, which was fine, except one day when I was doing an inspection, the officer and the dog were out, in their yard. Well, when the cop wasn't looking, the dog bolted straight at me and leaped for my head. I dodged him and then was able to fend off the dog until the cop could get him under control. After the incident, I asked the cop to move his car from my house's driveway, and he told me no. He never apologized for the attack, and has refused to stop trespassing on my property. There is no one to help me because it is a small town and he is a police officer.

These police officers think that the law doesn't apply to them and they take advantage of the economically poor and uneducated citizens that they are supposed to protect. I guarantee if the roles were reversed and the kid's pitbull had bitten the officer, the dog would all ready be dead. In fact, the cop probably would have shot the dog on the spot.

These types of double standards, set by the people put in place to protect our communities, are absolutely disgusting.

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