Champlin officer sues Hennepin County deputy for K-9 attack during pursuit of suspect

Pictured is Officer Irish being attacked by a K-9 during a call. (Credit court document) (Supplied)

A Champlin police officer is suing a Hennepin County deputy for allegedly being attacked by his K-9 while responding to a call last year.

Officer Daniel Irish filed the lawsuit in federal court on Monday against deputy Keith McNamara after he was allegedly bitten by his K-9 Thor and suffered a series of medical complications stemming from the attack, the lawsuit alleges.  

Irish suffered "great pain and mental suffering" from the incident and accused McNamara of violating the fourth amendment for using excessive force by releasing Thor without warning, according to the lawsuit. 

The K-9 attack 

The incident happened on March 22, 2022, while law enforcement was attempting to apprehend a suspect who fled during a traffic stop in Osseo. The driver lost control of the car and started running on foot through a nearby cemetery, heading toward an apartment and school in the area. 

The deputy let Thor off his leash to track and apprehend the suspect, knowing that Thor would bite the first person he saw, but failed to warn other officers in the area, according to the lawsuit.

"I did not give K-9 warnings as we got closer to the suspect due to it being very loud with sirens. I tried to air via radio that the K-9 was off-leash, but I could not get on the air due to high volume of air traffic for this incident," McNamara said in a report, according to the lawsuit. 

Thor going to bite Officer Irish as he opened his door (Credit court documents) (Supplied)

As Irish opened the squad door to chase the suspect, the Hennepin County K-9 appeared and grabbed onto his left arm and started to bite.

The incident was caught on body cameras worn by law enforcement and the footage captured Thor not listening to McNamara’s commands to release the officer. The deputy ultimately got control of the K-9 and sent him toward the driver, and he apprehended him by the leg, according to the lawsuit. 

The officer and suspect were transported to the hospital to be treated for injuries received from the K-9.

Injuries and recovery 

Irish suffered bit marks to the left forearm and buttocks region. He was given a tetanus shot and prescribed an antibiotic to help prevent infection. However, the antibiotics later caused C. difficile, a bacterial infection of the large intestine. 

On April 3, 2022, Irish reported pain, redness and irritation around the dog bites and difficulty sleeping. The doctors diagnosed him with cellulitis, a deep infection of the skin, and prescribed another antibiotic, according to the lawsuit. 

Officer Irish's wounds from a K-9 attack (Credit court documents)

The symptoms got progressively worse and Irish went to the hospital on May 17, 2022, for abdominal pain. An abdominal CT revealed Irish suffered from "extensive colitis" and he was diagnosed with C. difficile again and prescribed another antibiotic, the lawsuit claims. 

In June 2022, Irish went back to the doctor complaining of the same symptoms and was prescribed another round of antibiotics. He saw a specialist at the end of July 2022 for the ongoing abdominal pain and was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome which the doctor said was likely caused by C. difficile, the lawsuit alleges.

The Lawsuit

The lawsuit claims McNamara violated the Fourth Amendment by depriving Irish of his civil rights to be free from excessive force after he deployed Thor and reasonably warn others before releasing the K-9 off-leash during the pursuit of the suspect.  

The officer claims he incurred medical expenses, lost time to work, and wage loss as a result of the attack. He also suffered mental and emotional harm and completed eight counseling sessions between Sept. 14, 2022, and Jan. 30, 2023. 

Irish is seeking compensatory and punitive damages which will be determined in court.