April 21, 2017 02:25 PM
An Eagan man is suing an officer with the Eagan Police Department, claiming his Constitutional rights were violated after being bit by a police K9, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court.
Nicholas Griffith is seeking $300,000 in damages from Eagan Police Officer Tony Lejcher.
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The lawsuit claims on Aug. 17, 2016, Griffith and a friend went to the baseball fields at Hidden Corner Park in Eagan where they were drinking beers. Both men were underage at the time. While they were at the park, a resident a few blocks away reported suspicious activity, saying there was an individual dressed in all black and a dark ski mask.
Six Eagan police officers responded to the call. Two officers drove to an elementary school to wait for other officers to arrive when they saw Griffith and his friend in the park. The two officers turned on their headlights and drove into the park, which spooked Griffith and his friend, causing them run, according to the lawsuit.
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While running the two were separated. Police were able to catch up with Griffith's friend who explained to the officers what they were doing in the park and identified Griffith. The friend also showed officer his backpack, which did not have a ski mask or other items mentioned in the suspicious activity call, the lawsuit says.
The officers then called in Lejcher and a K9 to locate Griffith, according to the lawsuit. During the search, Lejcher spotted Griffith hiding by a bush. The officer told Griffith to put his hands up. The lawsuit says as Griffith was complying he was bitten by the K9, which was running free at the time.
Griffith suffered a number of lacerations to the neck, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the release of the K9 constitutes excessive force and unreasonable seizure, which is protected under the Fourth Amendment.
A spokesperson for Eagan Police Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Updated: April 21, 2017 02:25 PM
Created: April 21, 2017 11:38 AM
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