A Minnesota woman filed a federal lawsuit against the St. Paul Police Department and one of its officers Wednesday after she was attacked by a police dog by mistake.
The woman suffered from several dog bites to her arm and one to her leg when the police dog attacked her the night of Sept. 23. The police were using the dog to look for a burglary suspect when it attacked Desiree Collins, 52, while she took at the trash.
“What did I do?” Collins asked after the police were able to get the dog off her in the video.
“Nothing,” replied on of the officers.
Collins’ lawyer Andrew Noel said that the lawsuit is in part to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
“Part of the reason for the lawsuit is she says, ‘If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone,’” said Noel to the Pioneer Press. “She wants St. Paul to make the appropriate changes to makes sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Police Chief Todd Axtell released a statement Thursday regretting the mistake.
“What happened to Ms. Collins was a terrible accident that should not have occurred,” he said in a statement. “I am sorry it happened and that she was injured. As a department, we wish we could go back and do things differently. Unfortunately, we can’t. What we can do is apologize and take responsibility, offer support and compassion and learn from the incident so we can continue to work to prevent it from happening to anyone else.”
The officer being sued, Thaddeus Schmidt, was responsible for the dog that attacked Collins. After an internal affairs investigation into the incident, Schmidt was given a one day suspension for the dog’s leash being too long and not yelling out proper warnings about the dog.
In addition to monetary damages, the lawsuit seeks to have the force retrained on how it uses police dogs.