Police K9 pulled from streets after third bite


WILKES-BARRE (WOLF) -- The Wilkes-Barre mayor says a police K9 is off the street after biting an officer, and that marks the third bite by the same dog in the past several months.

Also, one of those bites has resulted in a lawsuit.

"Pull the dog off of him," someone says during a cell-phone video recorded on July 18. Witnesses heard cries of pain coming from Public Square that afternoon.

In the zoomed-in shot, you can see why. A dog on the left is jumping up and down by a person.

"The dog latched onto his back and was chewing him for, when you see the video, I would say at least 30 seconds of the dog swinging his head back and forth," says attorney Kevin Mincey. "Essentially mauling him on the on the Public Square."

Eventually, the dog is on the right side of the suspect. Joshua Fought's attorney says the 44-year-old from Berwick was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery on his back, requiring skin grafts from his leg.

He says there was infection and Fought was "permanently disfigured."

"The officer said he gave an order for the dog to stop once he was able to handcuff both of Mr. Fought's hands," says Mincey.

Now, it turns out K9 Chase has been pulled after biting an officer on the leg last week, the same dog that was involved in the Public Square incident, George said.

"Our dog bit three people in the past several months, and the last one was one of our officers, and we thought it best to be safe to pull him off the road until he's evaluated," says George.

"That's probably a good idea for the city to take the dog off the street," says Mincey. "I just wish they had done so before Mr. Fought had to be so seriously injured."

George says they had dogs while he was an officer for 27 years. Then, they were taken away, but have recently been brought back, with the two new dogs here for about a year-and-a-half.

K9 Skoty is still on the streets. As for the injured officer...

"He wasn't hurt bad, but he was bit," says George. "So, we thought it would be wise to -- so nobody else gets bit -- that we check the dog, so we're in the process now of getting somebody to evaluate it."

"We're just gonna check to make sure. We have one lawsuit pending and we don't want another one," says George.

Even before the dog bite incident, records show that Fought had been ticketed in Wilkes-Barre on four separate occassions in May and July for things like public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.

In this case, the criminal complaint says Fought yelled at the officer that he doesn't have control of his dog and he is going to videotape him, and was cursing, then talked about leaving the area.

So, Ptlmn. Joseph Homza told the dog to do a down and left to capture Fought, and then fought kept resisting arrest and would not comply, and then the K-9 bit him above the hip, the criminal complaint filed by Homza states.

Meantime, Fought's civil suit lists 10 counts that could total $1.5 million requested. The charges against Fought were dismissed, then later re-filed.

At a preliminary hearing on Friday, the resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges were held for court. Fought was released on his own recognizance.

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