HENNEPIN COUNTY, Minn. — Law enforcement officers use all the tools at their disposal in the battle against crime, including K9 partners trained to chase and apprehend suspects.
But a lawsuit filed by a Champlin police officer alleges that he, and not a suspect, was attacked after Hennepin County Deputy Keith McNamara wrongly deployed his dog and then failed to control him.
Daniel Irish is seeking damages for "great pain and mental suffering" after he was repeatedly bitten by a K9 named Thor while attempting to apprehend a suspect on March 22, 2022. The lawsuit claims Irish was pursuing a driver who fled a traffic stop on that day, and ended up in Osseo near St. Vincent Cemetery after the man crashed.
Court documents detail how Irish alleges Deputy McNamara deployed Thor off-leash without warning either the suspect or fellow officers, knowing that the dog would track and bite the first person he saw. That person, the lawsuit maintains, was Irish, who claims he encountered the dog the moment he arrived on scene.
"I opened my squad door and attempted to give the suspect commands and all of a sudden the Hennepin County K9 grabbed ahold of my left arm and started to bite," officer Irish said in a statement. "I was attempting to control the K9 and give the suspect commands the best that I could while I was getting bite [sic] in the arm and legs."
The lawsuit claims McNamara lost verbal control of Thor, lost sight of the dog and was negligent in releasing the K9 in the vicinity of an apartment complex and school where it was likely he would encounter "any number of innocent civilians."
In reports of the incident, deputy McNamara said he was able to pull Thor off Irish and redirect him towards the suspect, who the dog apprehended by biting him on the leg.
Officer Irish was treated for multiple bites at North Memorial Hospital but alleges the wounds became infected, causing cellulitis. He also says antibiotics prescribed to him resulted in C. difficile, and eventually colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Irish claims he was referred to an infectious disease specialist but continued having relapses, resulting in his not being able to work.
Daniel Irish is asking that a jury hear the case and decide the amount of compensatory and punitive damage he receives. He is also asking that deputy McNamara cover his attorney fees and legal costs.
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