Shaheen & Gordon Attorney Alex Spadinger was recently successful in settling an excessive force claim against the Town of York on behalf of a local pediatrician who was severely injured by a police K-9.
As case records indicate, Attorney Spadinger’s client, Dr. Stephan Brennan, was a local physician who practiced pediatrics in York for over 30 years. In September 2019, Dr. Brennan was stopped by a York Police Department Patrolman for flashing his high beams. The traffic stop, which should have been routine, culminated in a police K-9 being released.
A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Dr. Brennan by Attorney Spadinger and our firm alleged that York Police used excessive force and violated Dr. Brennan’s rights when the officer released his police dog. Dr. Brennan suffered multiple puncture wounds to both legs and his left arm, a chest injury, and trauma to his left eye. He was treated at a local hospital and required months of follow-up care.
As Attorney Spadinger noted:
“This was a traffic stop for a minor motor vehicle infraction. A K-9 should never be released on someone suspected of committing a traffic infraction. Law enforcement is only allowed to use force that is reasonable and necessary. The decision to release a trained police dog was neither of those things.”
Although initial statements from the York Police Department suggested that the Plaintiff was the aggressor, footage captured on the police cruiser’s dashcam showed that Dr. Brennan posed no threat to the patrolman and did not act in an aggressive manner. According to Attorney Spadinger:
“The value of this settlement clearly shows the initial attempts by the York Police Department to paint Dr. Brennan as the aggressor were not accurate representations of what actually occurred. Dr. Brennan was in the process of getting down on the ground to
surrender when the K-9 was released.”
As part of the settlement, the Town of York agreed to pay $325,000 to compensate Dr. Brennan for his pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other damages. The settlement also provides Dr. Brennan an opportunity to meet with officials and offer input on police policies and de-escalation tactics.
“As a result of this case, Dr. Brennan is hopeful that the York Police Department will take steps to ensure that next time one of its officers is faced with a situation like this, they turn first to their de-escalation training before resorting to physical force.”