When Elk Grove officials euthanized Zeus the German shepherd last year as a “dangerous animal,” one of the given reasons was that Zeus had bitten two people, one of them an Elk Grove police officer.
Now, the city and Police Department are being sued by a woman who contends she was attacked on a Folsom street by an Elk Grove police dog and knocked to the concrete.
The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court on Wednesday on behalf of Maria Rogers, alleges that Rogers was attacked by an Elk Grove K-9 named Graham after she saw the dog running across a Folsom street.
“On May 21, 2023, plaintiff was driving home from the grocery store,” according to the suit filed by attorneys Ryan Dostart and Britney Lucchesi of the Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora law firm. “She saw a large brown dog (hereinafter ‘Graham’) abruptly dart across the street in front of her vehicle.
“Plaintiff did not know at this time that Graham was a police dog or that Graham had any dangerous propensities.”
Rogers exited her vehicle in front of a Folsom home where she “was attacked by Graham,” the suit says. As she tried to fight off the attack, another dog joined in on the attack and knocked her to the concrete, the lawsuit says.
“This was a completely unprovoked attack,” the suit says.
According to the lawsuit, the Folsom home Rogers stopped in front of belonged to Elk Grove Officer Patrick Scott, who kept Graham and his personal pet dog, Rodeo, at the home.
City spokeswoman Kristyn Laurence referred inquiries Friday to Elk Grove police spokesman Sgt. Jason Jimenez.
Jimenez and Scott did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday or to inquiries about whether Graham is still in use by police or had been euthanized.
A photo posted on Oct. 12 on the Elk Grove Police K9 Association’s Facebook page shows a dog identified as Graham.
Andrew Shalaby, the attorney for Zeus’ owner who has sued Elk Grove over its decision to seize Zeus and euthanize him, said Friday that he does not believe Graham should face the same fate.
“We’re not advocating for a police dog to be euthanized,” Shalaby said. “But I think it shows disparate treatment.
“They, without hesitation, will euthanize a dog in a similar predicament. They do not apply the law in an even-handed manner.”
Shalaby has said the bites Zeus inflicted were minor and did not warrant his designation as dangerous. His owner was placed on suicide watch over Elk Grove’s decision to euthanize her dog a year ago.
The Rogers lawsuit alleges negligence by police and seeks damages for medical and other expenses.
Lawsuits over police dog bites are not unusual, although most involve attacks while officers are trying to subdue a suspect rather than a random attack on the street.
Sacramento civil rights attorney Mark Merin recently settled a K-9 lawsuit against the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office for $400,000, and has a similar case pending against the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office.
That suit alleges a police dog was unleashed on a suspect and latched onto his right arm, severing an artery while a deputy struggled to pull the canine off the suspect.