San Diego, CA – A woman who was bitten by a San Diego Police Department (SDPD) K9 after the police dog jumped over her fence last year is expected to receive a $600,000 settlement from the city this week.
The San Diego City Council is expected to sign off on the $600,000 settlement on Tuesday, KFMB reported.
According to court documents, Jenna Cole was watching her five-year-old daughter jump on the family’s backyard trampoline in January of 2021 while her neighbor, SDPD Officer Romiro Rodriguez, was out in his own backyard cleaning his K9’s kennel.
According to Cole’s lawsuit, K9 Aero suddenly spotted her daughter and bolted out of Officer Rodriguez’s yard, across an open field, and over the woman’s backyard fence, KFMB reported.
Cole said K9 Aero then “leapt onto the trampoline frame and viciously tried to bite and scratch through the netting to attack [her daughter],” according to the lawsuit. “Unable to get to its target, the attack dog went under the trampoline and attempted to bite the girl’s feet through the trampoline mat wherever she stepped.”
Cole said the K9 was attempting to kill her little girl, KFMB reported.
When he couldn’t get ahold of her, he turned his attention to Cole, according to the lawsuit.
“Aero attacked…from beneath the trampoline, biting ferociously on her ankle through the skin to bone and tendon, causing severe pain, bleeding, permanent injury, and damage,” the filing read.
Officer Rodriguez ran to the woman’s home and was able to gain control over K9 Aero, KFMB reported.
In addition to seeking compensation for medical bills, mental health counseling, and diminished earning capacity, Cole also called on the court to require law enforcement agencies to keep K9s in secure facilities as opposed residential areas, according to the Associated Press.
San Diego County ultimately designated K9 Aero as a “dangerous dog or nuisance animal,” but Officer Rodriguez was ultimately allowed to keep him at his home, according to the lawsuit.
“‘Aero’ has been and continues…to live with Romiro Rodriguez next door to plaintiffs, posing a constant threat for another violent attack and thereby further terrorizing plaintiffs, provoking a constant state of heightened fear and hypervigilance, and depriving plaintiffs of the quiet enjoyment and safety of their home, including the inability to relax and play in their own yard for fear of another attack,” Cole’s filing read.
It is unclear whether K9 Aero is still an active member of the SDPD, KFMB reported.
The city was served with the lawsuit on April 1, but the paperwork was given to a fill-in employee at the Deputy City Clerk’s Office who was “unfamiliar with legal documents and did not know the procedure of the Clerk’s Office when a Summons and Complaint is served,” according to court documents later filed by the city.
As a result, the lawsuit did not reach the City Attorney’s Office in a timely fashion and nearly resulted in the city being required to pay a proposed default figure of $4.6 million, KFMB reported.
A judge agreed to set aside the default judgement due to the circumstances of the situation and ordered both parties to attempt to reach a settlement.
They agreed on the $600,000 figure, which will need to be approved by the city council before it can be finalized, KFMB reported.
The city council gave its preliminary approval last month, according to the Associated Press.