K-9 attack drew worldwide attention: County settles federal lawsuit for $75,000

Friday, January 18, 2019

By Scott Loftis

CarrollCountyNews@cox-internet.com

A Carroll County man who was attacked by a sheriff’s office canine in 2014 reached a $75,000 settlement Wednesday in a federal lawsuit against the county and several individuals, County Judge Sam Barr confirmed.

Brennan Badley, then 24, was bitten by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office dog on Sept. 20, 2014, during an incident in Green Forest. The dog, a then-8-year-old Belgian Malinois named Tyson, bit Badley’s left thigh for more than 90 seconds despite repeated commands from his handler to release. A video recording of the incident obtained by Carroll County Newspapers generated worldwide attention after being posted online.

Little Rock attorney Morris W. Thompson initially filed a lawsuit on Badley’s behalf in August 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, naming the county as a defendant along with former sheriff Bob Grudek, former CCSO deputy Donald (D.J.) Harlan Jr., former CCSO deputy Troy Wenzel and other unspecified sheriff’s office personnel.

Harlan was the handler for Tyson. Grudek was sheriff at the time of the incident. He left office in January 2015 after he was defeated in the November 2014 general election by Randy Mayfield. After two terms in office, Mayfield did not seek re-election in November 2018, when Jim Ross was elected sheriff. Ross took office on Jan. 1.

Thompson said Thursday that the initial suit was dismissed because of “some technical glitches.” A second suit was filed in June 2018, naming the same defendants.

The lawsuit sought damages on Badley’s behalf for extreme pain and suffering, severe emotional distress, public humiliation and permanent scarring and disfigurement as well as compensatory and punitive damages for violation of Badley’s constitutional rights. The lawsuit also asked for attorney’s fees and costs to be paid by the defendants.

Thompson said Thursday morning that he was satisfied with the settlement.

“More importantly, Mr. Badley was satisfied,” Thompson said. “He didn’t want to relive the incident. It was a horrifying matter to him.”

Barr declined to comment on the settlement, although he did confirm that the Arkansas Association of Counties will pay the settlement on the county’s behalf.

The incident began on the afternoon of Sept. 20, 2014, when Green Forest officers were called to an apartment complex where Badley was reportedly inside a residence with a gun. Badley left the apartment through a back door and was followed by the Green Forest officers. Harlan and Tyson responded to the scene to assist the Green Forest officers. Badley surrendered without incident and his hands were cuffed behind his back by a Green Forest officer. Badley was still handcuffed and lying face-down when Tyson pulled away from Harlan and bit Badley. The dog did not respond to Harlan’s repeated commands to release. It is unclear from the video recording what eventually prompted Tyson to release.

Harlan cursed at Badley twice, once as Badley was being bitten and once after Tyson released, chastising Badley for moving during the attack.

Badley was treated at Mercy hospital in Berryville after the incident, at the expense of the sheriff’s office. He was arrested on an unrelated warrant but was not charged in the incident that culminated in the dog’s attack.

Grudek said Thursday that he had no comment on the settlement.

“No, not at all,” he said. “We were hoping it would go the other way, but that’s what happens when you go to settlement and the attorneys negotiate.”

Harlan, now a school resource officer with the Green Forest Police Department, did not return a call for comment Thursday.

Little Rock attorney Jason Owens of the Rainwater, Holt & Sexton firm represented the defendants in the lawsuit. Owens did not return a call for comment Thursday.

Badley could not be reached for comment.

Tyson was retired from service in 2015 and given to a former CCSO employee with experience as a canine handler.

The settlement was the second large payout in a lawsuit connected to Grudek’s administration. In October 2016, the family of a Berryville woman who died in custody in the Carroll County Detention Center in November 2014 settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $225,000.

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