A 46-year-old convicted burglar filed suit against the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department this week, claiming a patrol dog mauled him as he tried to turn himself in to police.
Although sheriff’s authorities don’t deny their dog, Enno, bit Dennis P. Morency, they say it was Morency who attacked their dog.
And they say Morency - who spent more than an hour hiding from police inside the tavern he was burglarizing - certainly wasn’t trying to turn himself in.
Officers caught Morency inside the Pub 41 tavern in December 1994. Morency is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for the resulting burglary and forgery conviction in August 1995.
Post Falls police and sheriff’s deputies surrounded the building. They repeatedly ordered Morency to come out of the crawl space in the attic where he was hiding - or face Enno, according to a sheriff’s report.
Morency didn’t come out and instead yelled obscenities about the dog, according to the report. Deputies sent Enno into the crawl space. When the dog found Morency, he barked to let his handler know.
“I yelled to the suspect, ‘The K9 has found you, give up,”’ Deputy Darrell Stidham wrote in his report. When Morency still wouldn’t come out, Stidham ordered his dog to contact and hold the burglar.
“I heard the K9 make contact and I heard (the dog) yelp in pain,” Stidham wrote in his report, explaining he tried calling Enno back, but got no response.
When officers found Morency he was bleeding and said he’d thrown the dog through the ceiling.
In his suit, Morency claims the dog is too aggressive and can’t be controlled. He said he was trying to surrender when the dog attacked him, biting his head and arm. It took more than 80 stitches to patch Morency up after his run-in with Enno - 65 of them to fix his torn ear, according to the sheriff’s report.
“The dog was chewing my head off,” Morency said in a 1995 interview from the Kootenai County Jail where he was threatening a hunger strike over the incident.
Although sheriff’s officials would not comment on the specifics of the case Wednesday, because of the pending court case, Capt. Ben Wolfinger said the dog behaved appropriately.
“Enno is a highly trained police dog,” said Sgt. Brad Maskell, head of the county’s K9 program. “He is very much under the control of his handler.”
Enno - who is trained in both tracking and drug detection - has been credited with numerous drug finds and with catching several fleeing suspects, Maskell said. Earlier this year, Enno helped stop a driver who was trying to run over a deputy with his truck.
Maskell said the K9s are vital to the protection of sheriff’s deputies.