âWhy me? Why is this happening?â Glenn Slaughter thought as a St. Paul police K-9 clamped down on his arm last week.
Glenn Slaughter (Courtesy photo)
Officers say Slaughter, 33, was not involved in the weapons call they responded to early Friday and the K-9 accidentally bit him.
The case led the mayor and police chief to announce Monday that St. Paulâs police dogs will be used more sparinglyÂ amid âsignificant changesâ and an external audit.
Most of Slaughterâs wounds were to his right forearm, but the dog also bit his back, and his worst injury is a puncture wound on his side â itâs a dime-sized hole measured at the hospital as 4 inches deep, said Anne Shomshor, the fiancee of Slaughterâs brother.
Slaughter â who lives with his brother, Shomshor, and other relatives in St. Paulâs Daytonâs Bluff area â works overnights for a warehouse at IKEA.
As he walked to his car to go to work about 2 a.m. Friday, Slaughter didnât notice police officers, Shomshor said. Slaughter was resting Tuesday and unavailable to talk.
Suddenly, Slaughter saw an officerâs flashlight. An officer said, âPut your hands upâ and told Slaughter to get down on the ground, Shomshor said.
Police had responded early Friday to a report of a male with a gun in the street in theÂ 900 block of East Fourth Street. The suspect fled and, as police searched for him, they ordered Slaughter to lie on the ground for his safety, which he did, according to a police spokesman.
But Slaughter âheard footsteps coming toward him, the chain drop to the ground and then the dog was on him,â Shomshor said.
The dogâs handler, officer Mark Ross, gave repeated commands for K-9 Suttree to release Slaughter, body-camera footage shows. He activated the dogâs electronic collar, but Suttree did not stop biting, and Ross had to physically remove him from Slaughter. It took about 20 seconds, according to the police department.
Viewers may find the video disturbing.
Nick Slaughter, Glennâs brother, had returned home from work just before midnight. He said goodbye as his brother headed to work and was watching TV when he heard screaming coming from outside.
He opened the door, saw the dog attacking and shouted to the officers, âWhat are you doing? My brother is just trying to get to work!â Shomshor said.
Police told Nick Slaughter to get inside and he went upstairs, screaming to Shomshor, âThe dog got Glenn!â
Paramedics checked out Glenn Slaughter and his brother took him to the hospital, where he spent five hours. Medical staff cleaned out his wounds and gave him antibiotics, Shomshor said.
Ross was apologetic to Slaughter and explained that the dogâs collar snapped, according to Shomshor. He also went to the hospital to bring Slaughter his phone and keys, told him again he was sorry about what happened, and said the police department would take care of his medical costs.
Slaughter and his family were initially worried heâd sustained nerve damage because he had little feeling in his right thumb â âat first he couldnât hold a pop can or a glassâ â but the feeling is returning, Shomshor said Tuesday. Slaughter has not been able to return to work.
Police Chief Todd Axtell wrote in an email to department employees Tuesday that he made the decision Monday to change policy and practices for when and how officers use K-9s.
âThese changes are necessary to make sure we are doing everything possible to minimize risk â risk to officers, risk to the department and risk to the people we serve. By implementing new ideas, a fresh approach, newer safeguards and an independent review, we create an opportunity for continuous success and confidence,â Axtell wrote.
âCanines will still be available on the most serious and dangerous of calls,â the police chiefâs email continued. âTheyâll still help locate missing persons, guns, drugs and evidence. But the goal is to minimize the number of accidental bites that occur.â
Shomshor said she and her family members hope the changes donât âjustÂ happen for a few weeks or a few months, but that itâs an ongoing improvement.â
The police department is still determining how the external audit of the K-9 unit will be carried out, police spokesman Steve Linders said Tuesday.
Suttree is no longer with the K-9 unit, and Ross is being re-assigned, Linders said. An internal-affairs investigation involving Ross was opened on Monday, according to the police department.
Slaughter âis weighing his optionsâ about filing a lawsuit, but his main priority is that âpeople are held accountable,âÂ Shomshor said.
After the police department released body-camera footage of what happened Friday, Slaughter could watch only the first part of it because he didnât want to re-live the experience, said Shomshor, who waited until Tuesday to view it.
âItâs disturbing because you can hear Glennâs screams and you can hear how scared he is,â she said. ââŚ HeÂ knows at the end of the day, it had nothing to do with him. It really is a wrong place, wrong time scenario. But itâs scary because I have a young son and kids are out of school for the summer â it could have been anyone walkingÂ out of the house. If it was that easy for the dogâs collar to malfunction or whatever the situation was, it was an uncontrolled situation and thatâs scary.â