Pierce County to pay $225K to police-dog bite victim

The Seattle TimesFebruary 6, 2014 

Pierce County will pay a Tacoma man $225,000 to settle a civil-rights lawsuit arising out of a May 2011 attack by a police dog while the man was out for an early morning walk.

Chad Boyles reached the settlement with Pierce County, which paid the settlement even though the injuries were inflicted by a Lakewood police dog.

The dog, K-9 officer Astor and his handler, officer Jim Syler, had been called to help sheriff’s deputies search for a suspect in a domestic-violence assault.

Boyles, 27, had been in an argument with his brother and had taken a walk to cool off. He walked down a trail into a large, overgrown field near his home when Astor, at the end of a 30-foot-long lead, came over a small rise and attacked.

In an interview last year, Boyles said the large police dog “came out of nowhere” and seemed to be going for his throat. The dog tore into his right forearm, which Boyles said he had raised to protect himself.

Syler appeared a few seconds later to call off the dog, but not until Boyles suffered a tearing wound that exposed tendon and bone, and has required surgery.

Police Chief Brett Farrar said Thursday that the Boyles incident was a mistake and that Syler went to the hospital and apologized afterward. He said deputies were seeking a domestic-violence suspect when a deputy apparently mistook Boyles for the suspect and called for Syler and his dog to track him into the field.

Astor was retired last year and sold for $1 by the city to Syler, who now owns him as a family pet, the chief said.

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