Police dog allegedly escaped before attack

LYNNWOOD — It now appears that a former Lynnwood police dog allegedly escaped from his handler’s patrol car before biting a Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy.

The deputy, Marcus Dill, is suing the city of Lynnwood, the police department and the dog’s handler, Sgt. Jason Valentine, in connection with the 2009 incident.

Dill’s $300,000 claim for damages with the city went unanswered and a lawsuit was started last month in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Dill’s lawyers initially told The Herald that the police dog, Sandor, was on a long leash when he bit the deputy.

They recently filed an amended complaint that provides a different version of what happened.

According to the court documents, Dill was assisting Valentine on a high-risk vehicle stop involving a man who was believed to be headed to his wife’s home in violation of a court order. The man also had outstanding felony arrest warrants.

Valentine attempted to stop the suspect, who fled and led the officer on a car chase. Valentine reportedly ended the pursuit by using his patrol car to push the suspect’s vehicle, causing it to stall, according to court papers.

Dill, who had joined the chase, was providing cover for Valentine and was standing outside his patrol car with his gun drawn. The lawsuit alleges that Sandor escaped his cage in the backseat of Valentine’s patrol car and came out the open driver’s side door.

Valentine reportedly had his back to the dog, as he was arresting the suspect. He hadn’t called for the dog’s assistance, court papers said.

Sandor allegedly attacked Dill from behind, dragging him to the ground.

The lawsuit alleges that Valentine left the dog cage unlatched, which allowed Sandor to escape. The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants failed to keep “their dangerous dog under proper control.”

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.

The city has declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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