A woman who says she was mauled by a Fort Wayne police dog in November has sued the city seeking more than $700,000 in damages.
Trinity Fleming, 19, of Fort Wayne ran from police about 12:30 a.m. Nov. 16 and hid behind a bush, where a police dog found and attacked her face and head, the lawsuit said.
Fort Wayne officers were trying to conduct a traffic stop on Interstate 69 near mile marker 303 when the van driver fled, leading police on a chase through city streets, mainly in the northeast area, at times more than 100 mph, police reports said.
A police report said Fleming was the driver. Fleming denied that and did not own or have access to a vehicle, according to Jennifer Fleming, her mother, interviewed at the time of the incident. She said the male driver told Tiffany to get out and run after the two of them abandoned the van.
Police said the dog tracked through houses and finally came to a bush where “it began engaging something.”
According to the lawsuit, Fleming asked the officer to get the dog off her.
The lawsuit filed Aug. 23 in Allen Superior Court, and later in U.S. District Court, by Christopher C. Myers & Associates claims that “despite giving up, being no threat, having no weapon, the handler/officer permitted his dog to attack (Fleming).” The suit says Fleming was bitten in the face numerous times and was “unrecognizable and is in need of plastic surgery.”
“Even then she will be permanently disfigured,” the suit said.
The suit claims officers used excessive force and the city is liable under the state's tort laws for the “negligence and recklessness of its Fort Wayne city police officers in allowing a K-9 police dog to savagely maul and injure a defenseless 19-year-old girl.” Fleming weighs about 100 pounds, the suit said.
Fleming was charged with resisting law enforcement, felony unlawful possession of a syringe with misdemeanor failure to remain at the scene of an accident and reckless driving.
In May, all but the resisting charge were dismissed and she received a two-year suspended sentence with probation from Superior Court Judge David Zent. In March, she was charged with felony possession of methamphetamine, unlawful possession of a syringe and misdemeanor paraphernalia possession and was given a two-year suspended sentence with probation in May, also from Zent.
On Tuesday, the probation department petitioned to revoke her probation. On top of the $700,000, the suit is asking for damages to cover costs and medical expenses.