Deputy sues Lynnwood police over dog bite

LYNNWOOD — The Lynnwood Police Department is being sued by an unusual source affected by a police dog bite — a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy.

Deputy Marcus Dill recently filed a lawsuit alleging that in 2009 he was bitten in the back of the leg by a Lynnwood police dog. The deputy alleges that attack happened while he was on the clock, assisting Lynnwood Sgt. Jason Valentine and his canine partner, Sandor.

Dill claims Valentine lost control of Sandor, who was working on a long-leash. The dog bit Dill on the back of the leg and wouldn’t let go, said Justin Monro with Monro Law Firm in Lake Stevens.

“It was a bad bite,” Monro said.

Dill needed stitches and lost some time at work because of his injury.

In February, three years after the incident, he filed a $300,000 claim against the city of Lynnwood. City officials didn’t respond and Dill’s attorney, Stephen Monro filed a lawsuit last week in Snohomish County Superior Court. The city, the police department and Valentine are listed as the defendants.

Dill alleges the city and police department failed to properly train Valentine and Sandor. He also alleges that the dog wasn’t properly controlled and Dill wasn’t warned that he might be in danger. The lawsuit calls Sandor a “guard dog.”

Lynnwood had not filed responses to the lawsuit as of Tuesday afternoon.

Police officials declined to talk about Dill’s allegations.

“We can’t comment on this case that is currently pending litigation,” Lynnwood police spokeswoman Shannon Sessions said Tuesday.

Sandor, a 9-year-old German shepherd, was retired in September and went to live with Valentine and his family. He served eight years with the city.

Valentine and Sandor received various awards over the years. Edmonds police officials awarded the team a letter of commendation for their efforts in locating $80,000 in stolen jewelry. The jewels were taken during an armed robbery in 2010. Edmonds officers found the suspect and gun. Valentine and Sandor discovered the jewels in a pepper shaker discarded in a flower planter.

A charity that raises money to help purchase police dogs also recognized the officer and his canine partner earlier this year for their proactive work.

Lynnwood police officials noted that Sandor “made well over 100 arrests.”

It wasn’t clear Tuesday if there were other complaints against the dog.

Police departments often are sued over dog bites — usually by suspects.

In 2000, Snohomish County paid out $412,500 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by reclusive Bulgarian burglar Mincio Donciev. The man was mauled by Yukon, a dog with a troubled past, during an arrest near Darrington in 1998. The dog chewed off nearly 40 percent of Donciev’s left foot.

Records showed Yukon had been mistreated by his first owner and later by trainers at the Tacoma Police Department, who choked and hanged the dog in a failed effort to curb his habit of biting and not letting go.

Tacoma police deemed Yukon unfit for police service, yet sold him at a discount price to Snohomish County.

During his time with the sheriff’s office, Yukon bit at least 15 people, including his handler, the handler’s son and teenage nephew, a neighbor boy and other deputies.

Yukon was retired the same month the county settled with the burglar. The settlement eventually led lawmakers to adopt standards to govern police dog operations.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;

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