Lawsuits: 4 claim they were mauled by same Spartanburg County K- - FOX Carolina 21

Lawsuits: 4 claim they were mauled by same Spartanburg County K-9 without just cause

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(Wikimedia Commons/ File) (Wikimedia Commons/ File)
SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Four separate lawsuits filed against the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office in the last month all involve allegations of excessive force during K-9 apprehensions.

The four plaintiffs claim they were mauled by K-9 Dano while trying to surrender to authorities.

In a lawsuit filed on Mar. 29, Justin Pressley said in 2016 he ran away from law enforcement but laid down on the ground after realizing he was surrounded. The lawsuit states that although he was surrendering, Dano's handler released the K-9 with commands to attack.

Pressley said he suffered serious injuries and bite wounds all over his body and that Dano was only recalled after an "unreasonably long" amount of time. His injuries required surgery at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center, the lawsuit states.

According to a second lawsuit filed on Apr. 4, David Sanders was involved in an argument in 2016 when deputies approached him. Sanders, who said no crime had been committed, tried to leave at which time K-9 Dano and his handler were called in to arrest him.

The lawsuit says that without warning or giving Sanders time to surrender, K-9 Dano was ordered to attack Sanders. Sanders said he was unable to comply with commands to show his hands or roll onto his stomach "while being viciously attacked and bitten."

Sanders was taken to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center for surgery after the incident, the lawsuit states.

In a third lawsuit, filed on Apr. 24, Richard Mugavero said he was driving with a suspended license on I-85 when he was stopped by deputies as part of Operation Rolling Thunder in 2016.

The lawsuit states that Mugavero did not stop for the traffic stop and when he arrived at his home, got out of the vehicle and ran. When he was approached by deputies and K-9 Dano, the lawsuit claims Mugavero got on his knees and began apologizing but Dano's handler dropped the leash.

Mugavero said Dano was pulled off him "only after being endlessly and unnecessarily mauled." The lawsuit states he needed medical treatment after the incident.

A fourth lawsuit filed on Apr. 25, Brian Stewart said he was also mauled by K-9 Dano.

According to the lawsuit, Stewart knew he had an expired license and did not stop for a traffic stop in 2016. He later got out of the vehicle and ran into a wooded area but when he saw he was being followed by the K-9, he surrendered, the lawsuit states.

Stewart said although he was putting his hands up and said "I am right here, I surrender," K-9 Dano's handler dropped the leash and let him be "unjustifiably" attacked.

Stewart also said he needed medical treatment at Spartanburg Regional after the incident.

The four men are all suing for excessive force, gross negligence, false imprisonment and failure in training. Dano's handler, Deputy Robert Taylor, Sheriff Chuck Wright, the Sheriff's Office and Spartanburg County are all named as defendants in the lawsuits. Jury trials are requested.

Attorney Robert Phillips who is representing Pressley, Sanders, Mugavero, Stewart, said he has recently filed 7 lawsuits regarding suspects attacked by Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office K-9s, including a lawsuit filed in March involving K-9 Bruno.

The Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office does not comment on pending litigation and declined to release information on when K-9 Dano joined the department.

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