INDIANAPOLIS — A “horrendous” police dog attack that severely wounded a pregnant Indianapolis woman did not violate her constitutional rights because she wasn’t the dog’s intended target, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt found last week that while Mara Mancini suffered “horrendous injuries” in the July 2015 attack, she was an “unintended bystander” and no force was intentionally directed at her, so there was no violation of her Fourth Amendment rights, The Indianapolis Star reported .
Mancini was seven months pregnant when she heard a commotion outside and stepped onto her front porch to investigate. A police dog pursuing a male suspect in her neighborhood attacked Mancini, tearing chunks of flesh from her arm and thigh, she told the newspaper.
Mancini, who suffered premature contractions that doctors were able to stop, sued the city of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in 2016. She alleged that the attack violated her constitutional right to be secure against search and seizure, and challenged Indiana law and legal precedent that grants immunity to police dogs under Indiana’s dog bite liability statute.
But Pratt ruled Sept. 28 that the officers’ release of the dog “intending to seize the fleeing suspect does not mean that the officers intended to seize any other person.”
“The undisputed evidence is that Mancini was not the intended object of the officers’ efforts to seize the fleeing suspect,” Pratt wrote.
Donald Morgan, the city of Indianapolis’ chief litigation counsel, declined to comment on the ruling, saying the city doesn’t discuss pending litigation.
Jon Little, Mancini’s attorney, said he and Mancini are weighing whether to appeal Pratt’s ruling, while a state-level lawsuit is still pending in the case.
Little said surgeons have told his client that the nerve damage to her arm, which has severely impaired its function, is irreparable. He said Mancini will likely have to declare bankruptcy to pay her medical bills without the police department or the city being held responsible for the incident or her damages.
Mancini underwent multiple surgeries for her injuries and took painkillers that caused her son to be born with a narcotics addiction that he had to be weaned off over several weeks in neonatal intensive care, according to her suit.
“The city should be ashamed of themselves,” Little said.