, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 12, 2013

Man alleges he was disfigured by police dog

— A lawsuit has been filed by a man alleging he was disfigured by a police dog during a 2011 arrest.

Travis Phillips and his attorney, Chris W. Blankenship of Stigler, allege Phillips suffered “permanent injuries and grotesque disfigurement” as a result of several bites from a police dog named Apollo.

Blankenship did not return phone calls asking for comment on Tuesday.  

The suit names Muskogee Police officer Josh Smith, the city of Muskogee, and “defendant John Does 1-30.”

Phillips was arrested Aug. 19, 2011, by Smith, according to the arrest report, who is assigned to the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.  

The arrest report states Phillips, 33, was wanted for a number of felony warrants in Muskogee County when officers went to arrest him at a house in the 2000 block of Monta Avenue.

Phillips ran into a house in that block when officers spotted him, according to the report, and then out the back door. The report states Phillips was found hiding beside a nearby residence “after a short search with a K-9.” Smith states in the report that he ordered Phillips to stop, but Phillips did not comply.

Phillips was charged less than a week later with escape from arrest or detention, a felony; and obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor.

Phillips has asked for damages in excess of $10,000 in the suit, saying the Muskogee Police Department failed to train its officers properly, and excessive force was exercised as a result.

Muskogee City Attorney Roy Tucker said the city had not been served with the suit as of Tuesday. The suit was filed Monday in Muskogee County District Court, and there is a 150-day window to serve the city.

Excessive force claims fall under the city’s policy with the Oklahoma Mutual Assurance Group, Tucker said.

An hospital emergency room narrative included in the lawsuit states Phillips suffered 15-20 “bites, punctures and tears” to his lower right leg.

Phillips pleaded guilty Feb. 14, 2012, and was given a three-year suspended sentence, placed under district attorney’s office supervised probation and ordered to get his General Education Degree within one year.

Online court records state Phillips was “doing well” under his probation, but an arrest warrant was filed for Phillips on Feb. 5 for failure to appear at a mandatory review.

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth

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