PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man has had surgery after he was bitten by a police dog that was on the trail of another man outside his home.
Eric Edmiston, 53, a single father and owner of a house painting company, said the police dog pushed open the door to his home to attack him in the doorway — and he plans to hold the city accountable.
Plans to sue
“I’m planning to sue the city,” Edmiston said.
Rich McMenamin, attorney for Edmiston, said that a claim will be filed with the city once the extent of his client’s injuries are known.
“We will file a claim at the appropriate time,” he said. “If we can’t work something out with them, we’ll file a lawsuit.”
Edmiston said he is recovering from 28 puncture wounds to his right thigh — three of them deep gashes — and torn flesh.
He had surgery on Tuesday to have infected tissue removed, he said.
He has to return daily to Olympic Medical Center to have his wound debrided, is on antibiotics and must use a wound vacuum to keep the wounds clean.
“It would have been better that I’d been shot three times than to have the infections of a dog bite,” Edmiston said Saturday.
“It was a wicked, violent attack.”
Both Port Angeles police and Edmiston say that, although he was not the subject of the Feb. 27 search, Bogey, the police department’s 4-year-old police dog, sank his teeth into Edmiston’s leg him at the door of his home in the 1700 block of East Third Street.
Their accounts disagree on other details surrounding the brief but bloody encounter at the man’s front door.
Edmiston said he was resting in his living room with his son, Aaron, 12, at about 2:30 p.m., watching a movie after a long morning of mowing the lawn and stacking firewood on the deck.
Bogey was tracking a man sought for investigation of car theft who had been seen in the area, according to police reports written by officers Allen Brusseau, Bogey’s handler; Bruce Fernie, who was accompanying Bogey and Brusseau; and Joshua Powless, one of the officers investigating the theft.
“We had seen police cars blocking the road,” Edmiston said.
The door was shut but not latched, Edmiston said. The door does not close completely unless it is dead-bolted, he added.
“We heard a dog on the deck. We thought it was the neighbor dog and we got up to yell at it,” he said.
Edmiston said when he and his son reached the door, he pushed his son back and placed his hand on the latch. He apparently opened it slightly and then tried to close it when he saw a “black blur” and a large German Shepherd pushed the door open and clamped onto his leg.
“I had opened the door, saw the dog coming and pushed the door shut — but it doesn’t completely shut — and the dog pushed it open.
“I pushed Aaron away, and the dog bit my leg,” Edmiston said.
“My son was screaming. The dog was snarling.”
Brusseau and Fernie say in their reports that they were on the deck of Edmiston’s house when Edmiston opened the door a crack.
“I advised the male that I was a police officer and to go back inside,” Brusseau said in his report, “and he responded by opening his door further.”
“K9 Bogey turned round abruptly to the movement and contacted Edmiston’s right thigh,” Fernie said in his report.
Edmiston said he never heard the officer speak.
“Whatever the police were saying or doing, it wasn’t my focus,” he said.
Edmiston said he saw a blue leash lying flat on the ground, as if no one were holding it.
Corporal Kevin Miller, who heads the department’s K-9 program, said Bogey was on a 6-foot leash at that point.
Edmiston described a tug-of-war in which officers tried to pull the dog off him and he tried to open the canine’s mouth to get him off his leg.
Officers said that Brusseau unhooked Bogey’s canines form Edmiston’s leg.
Edmiston said: “I finally pried the dog’s mouth open. The cops didn’t do it.”
Officer say that Bogie was in contact with Edmiston from 3 to 5 seconds. Edmiston said it felt like a minute before he was released.
Edmiston said that officers did not help him, that he used a dirty soak and masking tape to fashion a tourniquet.
Officers report that they called paramedics and terminated the search.
“Our priority went to help Edmiston,” said Miller, who was not present during the attack.
When medical help arrived, Edmiston was taken to Olympic Medical Center for treatment.
The city of Port Angeles is accepting Edmiston’s hospital bills and will refer them to its insurance carrier, according to Abbi Fountain, head of human resources.
On Tuesday, more than a week after the incident, blood remained on the carpet in his living room.
Bogey, 4, a German shepherd dog, has been paired with Brusseau since November.
Bogey is the only active police dog in Port Angeles.
He was imported from the Netherlands in September 2012, and began patrol in 2013.
Both Bogey and his handler remain on duty, interim Police Chief Brian Smith said.
Miller said that Bogey was put through a similar scenario and “we didn’t get the same results.”
“The handler told him ‘down’ and the dog downed,” Miller said.
However, Brusseau didn’t give the dog that command, Miller said when asked.
“He didn’t have time,” Miller said. “We’re talking about seconds.”
Miller said Bogey has visited children’s classrooms with no problems and that no police dog working in the department has contacted a person who was not a suspect before.
“We’ve had the program for 29 years,” he said.
“We encounter civilians all the time because we are going through people’s yards and we have not had a situation like this ever.”
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at email@example.com.