The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department misuses dogs to attack people--especially blacks and Latinos--who pose no threat to deputies.
The suit alleges that "hundreds of people" have been "viciously mauled and grievously injured" by dogs. It names the county, Sheriff Sherman Block and 25 other Sheriff's Department employees, and asks for unspecified damages and for injunctions barring the "unconstitutional" use of dogs against those who are not threatening others. Block and his department spokesmen had no immediate comment on the suit.
The suit closely parallels one filed by the ACLU and others last June against the Los Angeles Police Department. The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, cites two victims, 16-year-old Samuel Silva Jr. and 18-year-old Rudy Becerra.
Silva's parents attended a news conference Thursday morning during which the ACLU screened a videotape said to show an LAPD dog attacking a screaming suspect who is begging officers to restrain the animal.