St. Paul, MN — On September 23rd, Desiree Collins, a 52-year-old St. Paul resident, learned the hard way what can happen when a K9 officer loses control of his dog. St. Paul police officer Thaddeus P. Schmidt claims he lost control of his K-9, Gabe, when it attacked Collins, ripping her arm into shreds. The entire incident was caught on the body cameras of the officers involved.
Collins was attacked by Gabe near a dumpster along the 600 block of Van Buren Avenue. The woman can be heard in a long and sustained scream. “Ow!…Oh!”, she shouted. The pain must have been intense as her eyes seemed to show the fear and horror she was experiencing.
The attack knocked her out of her shoes and onto the ground where Gabe had latched onto her arm. She screamed, he pulled, and then the St. Paul officers reached down to take control of her, helping her and attempting to get the dog off of her arm.
“Please, help me, oh!” Collins screamed in fear. “We’re trying to get your arm,” they responded. After they broke the dog’s grip on her arm, they told her to stand up and they would get her some medical care for her injuries.
Obviously shocked at the horrific attack, Collins asked, “What did I do to him?” The officers then responded saying “Nothing, it’s not your fault.” “You were just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” they told her. They then promised the medics were on their way.
Collins, understandably, is suing the city and the police department. Andrew Noel, one of her attorneys said:
The entire incident is shocking and unacceptable…The video speaks for itself–she was terrified.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell responded to the incident with apparent empathy. He said in a statement:
My heart breaks when I watch this video…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.
Collins and her attorneys want to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen again to an unsuspecting citizen. Not only do they want full compensation for Collins’ pain and suffering but they want to see the dog and handler be retrained. Apparently not waiting around for a certain judgment by the courts, Police spokesperson Steve Linders confirmed Thursday that both the officer and his K9 were sent back to training, disallowed from returning to work until the month-long retraining takes place.
As TFTP has reported on numerous occasions, the use of canines in police work is highly controversial. Not only are the dogs unpredictable but handlers can easily claim the dogs have “cued” in on drugs all in an effort to infringe on citizens’ civil liberties in order to force convictions in situations where probable cause would be difficult to obtain.
In a recent study, researchers determined the connection between dog and handler is so close that even an officer’s emotions can affect the way a dog reacts. In the case of Ms. Collins, the police were investigating a possible robbery, indicating the officer was likely running on adrenalin. The dog may have sensed as much and attacked Collins the minute he saw her. At any rate, the taxpayer, not the unscrupulous dog handler, will foot the bill when Ms. Collins wins her court case and receives her payout.