Lawsuit: Police K-9 ordered to attack handcuffed man

Sheriff mum on whether deputy disciplined

INDIANAPOLIS - A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed by a man who claims that he was handcuffed when an Indiana deputy sheriff ordered his K-9 to attack.

The lawsuit  was filed in Indianapolis federal court against the Wayne County Sheriff's office in Richmond, along with two if its deputies.

The lawsuit stems from the arrest of a man named James Cook on April 9, 2012, in Fountain City, Ind. He was facing an arrest warrant out of Preble County, Ohio, for a charge of receiving stolen property.

Cook admits he was hiding out in an attic as police stormed into his home, when Wayne County sheriff's deputy Ronald Lindley sent his K-9 named "Larry" in to find him.

In his lawsuit, Cook claims he remained silent as police scoured the home, but when the K-9 peered into the attic, Cook said he quietly spoke out with the words, "Please don't bite me," and then something to the effect of, "I like dogs."

Cook claims the dog began barking when Deputy Lindley gave a command, so he then blurted out, "Get that dog out of here."

Cook said the K-9 was then released into the attic, where it bit him and then ended up dragging him by the arm toward a group of officers.

He said Deputy Lindley then punched him in the head as he was ordering the dog to release his hold around Cook's arm so that he could crawl from the attic.

According to Cook's lawsuit , "Deputy Lindley ordered the K-9 to attack and bite Mr. Cook on the left hamstring after he was handcuffed."   He said the dog continued to bite his leg as he was cuffed, resulting in "significant injuries."

Cook was taken by ambulance to Reid Hospital for treatment before going to jail.

His lawyer did not respond to phone call or email messages from the Call 6 Investigators.

Wayne County Sheriff Jeff Cappa referred questions to his department's lawyer. When asked whether he disciplined anyone in connection with the arrest in question, he said, "This is a pending civil litigation so I'll refer you to my attorney."

The sheriff's attorney, Howard Williams of Elkhart, said he was unaware of any discipline resulting from the raid.

He said the Wayne County Sheriff's office has "their business in order" and the sheriff would never allow misconduct in his ranks.

He said the department is one of "the best trained, best staffed, and best run" departments he has ever dealt with in a 30-year career of working with law enforcement.

He said the department has good policies and procedures and he called it "an excellent agency."

He declined to discuss any facts about the arrest, but did say, "Anyone can file a lawsuit."

The lawsuit accuses the department of violating Cook's constitutional rights, and also accuses the deputies of showing "deliberate indifference" in using excessive force.

The suit also accuses the department of negligence and inflicting emotional distress.

No specific dollar amount is being sought in the legal action, and no hearing dates have been scheduled in federal court.
 

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