Federal judge OKs lawsuit over Lakewood police dog allegedly biting man for no reason

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A federal judge says a man’s lawsuit over a now-retired Lakewood police dog that bit him unprompted can go forward.

In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton declined a request by the city of Lakewood and Officer James Syler to dismiss the claims filed by Kerry Tucker, who was staying in a homeless camp when the dog, named Astor, attacked him in 2012.

Police were looking for someone else, and the then-23-year-old Tucker was neither a suspect nor fleeing when the German shepherd bit him, causing what his lawyers describe as severe and permanent leg injuries.

The dog had previously bitten a bystander, and Tucker says it was unreasonable for the officer to deploy the dog into an area where innocent people were camping. The city and Pierce County have paid nearly $250,000 in legal settlements and medical bills stemming from other lawsuits involving the dog.