The City of St. Paul, Minnesota, will pay $520,000 to a woman attacked by a police K-9 during a routine run to the trash.
According to the Star Tribune, the victim, Desiree Collins, sued the city and K-9 handler officer Thaddeus Schmidt for damages and suffering related to the 2017 incident. Tuesday, city officials and her attorneys, Bob Bennett and Andy Noel, agreed to the settlement.
The St. Paul resident was taking out the trash at 6:30 a.m. on September 23, 2017, when she crossed paths with three police officers responding to a burglary.
Bodycam video shows a dog running around a dumpster and sinking its teeth into Collins' arm as she attempted to throw out her trash. She is seen to be at the mercy of the dog as officers try and fail — several times — to free her. Eventually, officers are able to get the dog off of her.
The lawsuit claimed Schmidt made the situation worse. As officers tried to get the dog off Collins, they inadvertently gave the dog directions to exert more bite pressure. “I didn’t deserve that,” she said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Collins said the incident left her with ongoing trauma, and she had to move to live without fear. She also said she's been in therapy since the incident.
“She’s pleased, and she’s glad that she can put this lawsuit behind her and move on with life,” Noel said.
Issues of this nature are common in the state. In the last two years, there have been four accidental K-9 incidents. One involved a 10-year-old boy; another involved a man mistakenly identified as a suspect. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the city's police department has changed its K-9 policy to prevent such incidents from happening again.
“What happened to Ms. Collins was a terrible accident that should not have occurred,” Police Chief Todd Axtell said in a statement last year. “I am sorry it happened and that she was injured. As a department, we wish we could go back and do things differently. Unfortunately, we can’t. What we can do is apologize and take responsibility, offer support and compassion and learn from the incident so we can continue to work to prevent it from happening to anyone else.”
Officer Schmidt was suspended for one day.
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