Pa. police K-9 bites cops for second time despite being retrained

Penn Live – by John Luciew

Chase, a German shepherd police K-9 with the Wilkes-Barre department, was deployed to chase a burglary suspect Tuesday when the dog chomped down on the leg of a cop, instead.

As the Citizens’ Voice reports, citing sources, officer Shane Smith on the leg while the officer was holding a perimeter during the search for a man who had fled the scene of the break-in.  

It is the second time that Chase has bitten a police officer, and the dog has bitten four people altogether and had to be retrained as a result. Chase and another K-9 in the Wilkes-Barre department were just back from retraining when the incident occurred this week.

The fact that Chase bit officer Smith was omitted from the official police report on the incident, the Citizens Voice reports. But the newspaper cited sources with direct knowledge of the incident in reporting what happened:

Smith was holding the perimeter when another officer led Chase past him in search of the suspect. That’s when the dog, for no apparent reason, bit Smith, according to one witness.

“The dog latched onto Shane Smith’s leg,” said the witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “His calf was pretty torn up.”

Smith was taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment, the witness said.

An updated press release police issued later Wednesday to acknowledge the bite says Smith was treated and released for a puncture wound and a cut to the leg.

Chase had just been re-trained following a series of biting incidents, the newspaper reports, adding:

The biting incidents included Chase biting suspect and latching onto a police officer’s leg during an apprehension, as well as biting another man during a high-profile arrest on Public Square last summer.

In the latter case, the suspect was found not guilty of resisting and now has a pending federal civil rights lawsuit against the city alleging Chase attacked him “suddenly and without warning.”

The attorney in the case, Shabrei Parker, told the Citizens Voice the latest incident shows Chase is “clearly dangerous” and that its handler, officer Joseph Homza, was inadequately trained:

“We’re convinced that K-9 Chase and officer Homza were not properly trained,” added Parker, of the Philadelphia law firm Mincey & Fitzpatrick, LLC. “Further, the city’s allowance of the use of a dog that is clearly dangerous shows a disregard for the safety of civilians and officers alike.”

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