The plaintiff in a civil suit against the LaGrange Police Department testified Friday that he was cooperating with police when a LaGrange police dog bit him repeatedly.
Shajarvis Antwan Brown, 32, was wanted on a felony drug warrant and sought for questioning in an armed robbery on Feb. 11, 2007, when officers surrounded and entered a residence where he was staying on Wilkes Street. Brown said he hid underneath the sink because he saw K-9 officer Jeremy Butler and said he was scared of his dog, Zeus.
Brown had previously been apprehended by Butler a year earlier, but had given himself up without incident to parole officers as Butler searched the home. Brown said in the earlier incident he immediately gave himself up when he heard Butler call for him and saw the dog.
In the 2007 incident, Brown said when he was discovered by officers, he offered his hands in surrender, was pulled from the sink, handcuffed and sat in an adjacent living room as one officer held a Taser on him and Butler approached with the dog.
“Officer Butler and the dog walks in the room. I’m looking at dog, and it’s barking and I’m hollering ‘don’t let the dog bite me,’” Brown testified. “… As I said that, officer Butler gave some sort of command, and (the dog) bit me like 40 times, tearing into my muscle.”
Brown was bitten on his right leg, which he said was left scarred and took about a year to heal. Butler and other officers testified previously that Brown was not handcuffed, and that he was resisting officers when Butler testified he either gave the command or allowed Zeus to bite Brown to get him under control.
Brown also testified that Butler had encountered Brown another time before the Feb. 11 incident. Brown said he and a couple of other people were hanging out at a gas station on Hamilton Road when Butler pulled up and told Brown over his vehicle intercom to stay where he was, then released the dog.
Brown said Butler didn’t get out of the car and Brown had to run and jump a fence to escape the dog. Butler denies the incident happened.
In cross examination, City Attorney Jeff Todd called attention to Brown’s subsequent conviction on armed robbery. Brown said he wasn’t armed in the February incident and that he gave up when officers located him, but Todd asserted that Brown was combative because he knew that he would face a stiff prison sentence if caught and convicted on the armed robbery charges.
“You could have answered the door when officers arrived, couldn’t you? … You could have turned yourself in, couldn’t you,” Todd asked Brown, rebuffing Brown’s repeated testimony that he gave up peacefully. “Does hiding under a sink sound like giving up to you?”
“When I opened the sink, I did give up,” Brown said.