HAYWARD, Calif. (KTVU) - Richmond resident Joshua Phillips has multiple bite wounds to his leg and inner thigh due to an Alameda County K9 officer attacking him early Monday morning.
"He's just biting and biting and biting. I'm not kicking because I don't want to assault an officer," said Phillips.
He was driving in Hayward near the intersection of 2nd and B streets. That's where deputies pulled him over for expired tags and suspicion of DUI.
"He [an officer] asked me if I had a couple drinks. I said, ‘yes, I just got off work. I'm making sure my co-worker gets home safely,’" says Phillips.
Cellphone video provided by a friend of Phillips shows the interaction. In the video, which is hard to see, Phillips is leaning against the car when deputies say the K9 is accidentally released from the back
The dog then circles the car, passing Phillips, then to his handler, before it attacks.
"I was asking questions and having a conversation with another deputy, so I don't know why he attacked me. I didn't have any drugs on me. I wasn't being aggressive. I couldn't wave my arms because my hands were handcuffed behind my back," said Phillips.
"We feel very bad that this happened to this man. It was an unfortunate accident. The dog did everything the dog was supposed to do. Unfortunately, our handler pushed the button inadvertently with his equipment,” said Alameda County Sheriff Office Sgt. Ray Kelly.
A key fob device used by the sheriff's office is called a door pop. It allows a K9 to be freed from their vehicle. In this case, deputies say when the K9 handler bent over to check the vehicle. He accidentally pressed the device with his gun magazine causing the dog to be freed.
"We obviously made him aware that it was an accident. We did apologize to the fact that this was not supposed to have occurred,” said Kelly.
In the video, you can see the K9 locks in on Phillips as the deputy points his flashlight on him. Deputies say the K9s are not trained to attack with flashlight signaling and believe it was coincidence.
Phillips doesn't believe the dog was released to attack him, but does believe it was released on purpose. He plans to sue.
"When I saw the dog I thought, ‘Oh, he's going to use the dog to sniff for drugs – ha-ha-ha – I don't have no drugs.’ That's the only thing I'm thinking in my head, but he came and attacked me,” said Phillips. “I'm thinking it was on command.”
"This was a bad day for him and us. We didn't want to make his day any more difficult, but he was cited for the drunk driving," said Kelly.
Deputies say all handlers are now instructed to put the buttons in areas where it can't be accidentally engaged.