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'Bear' helps quell New York subway melee

June 19, 2013|By Tina Susman
  • An NYPD photo of Officer Vincent Tieniber and Bear the dog.
An NYPD photo of Officer Vincent Tieniber and Bear the dog. (New York Police Department )

NEW YORK -- Even by the standards of New York subway riders, this rumble was a doozy. Two cops, four women and a dog named Bear were involved, and while Bear suffered four broken teeth, a cut tongue and a scuffed snout, police say they and their canine partner came out on top.

It all began at about 11:15 a.m. Tuesday on the southbound platform of the No. 4 express train at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue, one of the busiest stations in Manhattan.

According to a statement from police spokesman Paul Browne, an officer on duty came upon a fight involving four women. One of them, age 19, was being choked by a second 19-year-old. Two other women, 22 and 31, were watching. When the officer, Rafael Diaz, tried to stop the assault, the older women turned on Diaz and pushed him, Browne said.

That's when Bear and his human partner, Officer Vincent Tieniber, arrived on the scene. As Tieniber was putting handcuffs on the 22-year-old, she began thrashing and kicking. Tieniber suffered a sprained wrist. Bear, a 6-year-old German shepherd, was kicked twice in the mouth.

That gave Tieniber a chance to finish cuffing the woman, whose kicking foot remained firmly clamped in Bear's mouth despite the dog's injuries, which included two cracked teeth, two chipped teeth, a lacerated tongue, and, according to the police statement, "scuff marks on his snout."

"Bear kept the woman's foot in his mouth and held on until I could handcuff her," Tieniber said.

Police said the woman, who was identified as Ravenia Matos-Davis of Queens, was not injured and Bear's teeth did not cut her skin. Matos-Davis was charged with injuring a police animal, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.

Charges against the two other women allegedly involved in the attack on the 19-year-old included possession of a controlled substance and strangulation. The choking victim was bruised and scratched but refused medical attention, police said.

Bear wasn't so lucky. His two broken teeth need to be capped and the ones that were chipped will be shaved down to make them even. The five-year police veteran was expected to be back at work later Wednesday after being treated.

Tieniber, an 11-year veteran of the police force, may be out of work longer as his wrist heals.

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tina.susman@latimes.com

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