A woman has sued the town of Mint Hill and one of its police officers over injuries she claims happened during “a vicious attack” by the officer’s K-9 police dog.
The incident happened at the officer’s house last spring and the woman and officer were dating at the time, according to her lawyer, Kenneth Haigler of Wilmington, who spoke at a news conference Wednesday in Charlotte.
“It should never have happened,” Haigler said.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, from Madison Simmons of Union County claims she was attacked by the dog, a Belgian Malinois named “Tazz.” The officer named in the lawsuit is Joseph McNamara.
Both the officer and the dog are still on the Mint Hill force, Haigler said. Mint Hill Town Manager Brian Welch told the Observer he could not comment on pending litigation.
Simmons, who is a nurse, says in the lawsuit the dog suddenly clenched its teeth on her left leg and wouldn’t let go.
According to the lawsuit filed in Mecklenburg County Civil Superior Court, McNamara took the dog into his house from an enclosed, fenced kennel in his backyard to have Tazz “‘show off’ by performing tricks.”
The dog “suddenly attacked” Simmons, “biting her with great force and severity numerous times,” according to the lawsuit. The dog failed to respond to the officer’s commands to let go of Simmons, according to the filing.
911 was called, and an ambulance took Simmons to a hospital, Haigler said.
The lawsuit claims the officer “negligently failed to properly restrain or control the canine” and that the town-owned dog had a “dangerous character and tendencies.”
McNamara did not reply to a message left on his office phone by the Charlotte Observer on Wednesday.
Simmons and her parents attended the news conference but declined comment. Haigler said he was speaking in their behalf.
Simmons seeks at least $25,000 in damages, according to the lawsuit.
Enlarged photos of Simmons’ gruesome bite wounds were displayed on poster boards at the news conference. Simmons also is represented by lawyers Glenn Perry and Brady Thomas.
She is permanently disfigured by the scarring, Haigler said. She always loved dogs, but the attack made her too fearful to ever be around them again, he said.
“There is no amount of money that you could pay me to go through what Madison Simmons went through April 18, 2019,” Haigler said. “... She seeks justice, plain and simple, a wrong made right, and hopefully, prayerfully, this won’t happen to anyone else.”