Lawsuit: Placer County K9 mauled suspect as he was unconscious

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A well-known K9 officer in Placer County is at the center of a civil rights lawsuit concerning a suspect allegedly mauled by the dog after passing out following a foot chase.

Placer County Sheriff’s K9 Axel, who made headlines after he briefly went missing in December of 2021, is a core piece to a lawsuit filed in federal court by Joseph Devon Williams, a suspect who says he was “ripped apart” by the dog as he was unconscious following a chase in July of 2020 near Taylor Road in Loomis.

In a complaint authored by Williams’ attorney, Julia Young, he says he was subject to excessive force when Axel’s handler, a deputy referred to as “K. Thompson” released him on Williams as he was unconscious in between fences following a foot chase.

“After being pulled over by Placer County Sheriff’s Department, Plaintiff fled from his vehicle,” the lawsuit reads. “He knew he was surrounded and hid in between fences. He then passed out because he was under the influence of opiates. The next thing he remembers is being ripped apart by a dog.”

The lawsuit says Williams required emergency surgery for bites all over his body, including a drain placed in his left armpit to stop the blood from clotting. The lawsuit says a member of hospital staff told Williams he was “lucky to be alive.”

“Plaintiff has [scars] on his left armpit, the back of his left leg, his left knee, his right [shoulder], and right hand,” the complaint reads. “He continues to suffer from nightmares as a result of the attack.”

Williams, who pled no contest to possessing drugs, a stolen ID, and resisting an officer in relation to the chase, spent just under a year in county jail as a result of the incident.

Under California’s police records law, documents, audio, and video relating to the bites could be subject to disclosure through the California Public Records Act. The Update, on Thursday, filed a request for any pertinent records.

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