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September 17, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, September 17, 2004

Dog bite victim appeals to NAACP Dog bite victim appeals to NAACP (September 17, 2004)

Police confer with FBI over alleged civil rights issue

By Huong C. Pham

Police dog-attack victim Patrick Terry filed a written complaint to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Sept. 8, seeking damages to cover his medical bills and injuries, according to an NAACP official.

Terry, a 25-year-old black man from Jacksonville, Fla., was bitten by Tino, a German Shepherd on Sept. 4 while he was being questioned by Mountain View police.

"This is such an egregious situation and the officer who did this needs to be held accountable," said local NAACP President Rick Callender. "The next step in this case is to contact the police department and city council and investigate."

Mountain View Police Chief Scott Vermeer, who maintained the dog acted on its own without any command, stated his intention to meet with local NAACP officials. "We're going to sit down and meet with them, address their concerns and hear their issues on this thing."

Vermeer said he had already spoken with members of the FBI, which gets involved "any time anyone alleges a civil rights violation."

Attempts to contact Terry were unsuccessful.

Reports that Terry planned to attempt to obtain a cash settlement from the city were squashed by City Attorney Michael Martello.

"Mr. Terry has yet to file a claim, although there was an erroneous report that there was a cash settlement with the city, which is false. There was no offer," said Martello.

Terry was bitten by Tino, the police dog, when police responded to a possible report of domestic violence and a verbal threat to assault a police officer. When a canine officer arrived on the scene to assist in detaining Terry, the police dog also exited the car and advanced toward him. The dog then bit his left thigh while he was on the ground in handcuffs.

The dog was pulled off Terry and handled by his canine officer. Terry was not arrested and was given medical treatment for his injuries.

The dog will be kept off duty until the investigation into the incident is completed, said Vermeer.

E-mail Huong C. Pham at [email protected]

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