San Francisco, CA — While rescuing his neighbor's cat from a construction area, retired sound engineer, Richard May, 64, was attacked, brought to the ground, viciously mauled by a k9, and then arrested by a sadistic officer who would photograph his kill. May is in court this week attempting to seek justice for that horrific evening involving a deputy and his dog with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department.
On the night of January 1, 2015, May was conducting, what he thought to be, a good deed. He was helping his 73-year-old neighbor, Sharon Coster, rescue her cat, Domino who'd climbed up construction scaffolding on an unfinished building next door.
As May was climbing up the scaffolding to retrieve the black and white cat, he recalls the K9 biting into his right leg. During this week's trial, May recalled to the eight-member jury that the bite was "extremely painful."
After the initial bite, May was brought to the ground by the large dog who continued to maul him.
"I was scratching and screaming. I was trying to escape in my mind. I couldn't believe what was going on," May recalled.
Riggs, the mauling K9, belonged to Sheriff's Deputy Chris Laughlin who, along with two other deputies, were responding to a call about an alleged burglary seen on surveillance video at the construction site.
Both Laughlin and the county maintain they gave ample warning for May to respond to their commands before unleashing the deadly dog on the elderly man. Police claim the innocent, retired, elderly man — rescuing his neighbor's cat — hid out in the shadows and refused to emerge and show his hands.
The county claims the deputy's actions were reasonable as he feared for his life and thought May could've had a weapon.
As KTVU reports:
May contends he posed no threat and didn't hear any announcement from Laughlin until after Riggs started biting.
His lawsuit is based on claims of unconstitutional use of excessive force, as well as negligence, assault and false arrest under California law. It seeks compensation from the county and the deputy for May's costs and emotional distress as well as a punitive award from Laughlin.
May testified today that he did "absolutely not" hear Laughlin's alleged initial command to show his hands and drop to the ground.
He said he saw the dark silhouettes of the deputies about 100 yards away, assumed they were security officers and stood still to await them.
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"I stayed right where I was because I was expecting a conversation," May said. According to May, the only sound he heard was a "very loud guttural sound which I interpreted as an attack word," he recalled.
"The dog immediately at full speed was running my way," and began biting his leg, May said. May said he was told to get on the ground and even after he immediately complied, the dog continued to bite him.
After the dog mauled the innocent May, he was handcuffed and brought to the sheriff's office — before the hospital. He was berated with questions until it was determined that he was rescuing a cat and not robbing the place.
This is where the story takes an even more ominous turn.
After realizing they had just allowed their K9 to maul an innocent man, the cops were not only unapologetic, but Laughlin celebrated the attack and even made a trophy out of their victim.
Laughlin took May to the hospital where he tagged his prey with a sticker on May's shirt that said, "I met Riggs," before snapping a photo for his personal collection.
He then dropped two tickets in May's lap. They were notices to appear in court for the alleged misdemeanors of trespassing and resisting arrest.
Luckily for May, both of those charges were thrown out by the District Attorney who clearly had no evidence of any crimes.
The civil rights trial is currently underway in the Federal Building courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler. Hopefully, the jury sees the sadistic nature of deputy Laughlin and awards May accordingly.
As for Laughlin, however, he's still a cop, and likely still tagging his victims for photos in his trophy book.