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Subject of controversial Spokane K9 arrest reaches $49K settlement with city

The lawsuit claimed Lucas Ellerman suffered injuries to his head and face and had to have surgery on his leg from the dog bites.
Credit: Spokane Police Department
A K9 engaged during the arrest of Lucas Ellerman

SPOKANE, Wash. — The man at the center of a controversial arrest in February 2019 reached a settlement with the City of Spokane.

Lucas Ellerman filed a lawsuit back in April against the City of Spokane and the two officers who conducted the arrest. One of Ellerman’s attorneys, Mark Harris, confirmed his client settled the lawsuit for $49,900.

The lawsuit claimed Officers Scott and Daniel Lesser entrapped Ellerman’s car against a snow bank after a vehicle pursuit. It also claimed Officer Dan Lesser smashed Ellerman’s car window, threatened to kill him and ordered K9 Murphy to attack Ellerman despite him telling officers he was getting out of the car.

The lawsuit claimed Ellerman suffered injuries to his head and face and had to have surgery on his leg from the dog bites.

The arrest led to the Spokane City Council and the Spokane Police Department being at odds over the release of the footage amid concerns over the use of the K9. Former City Council President Ben Stuckart told KREM at the time that the police department asked council members to sign a non-disclosure agreement to view the footage, which all members refused to do.

An Internal Affairs investigation found that K9 officer Dan Lesser violated policy when he didn't start his body camera at the start of the chase and in his language and demeanor in speaking with Ellerman. Officer Mark Brownell was also found to have violated body camera policy. Neither Lesser, Brownell or Scott Lesser were found to have violated use-of-force policy in pointing a gun at Ellerman, the Spokane Police Department found.

The body camera footage from the arrest shows Lesser telling Ellerman, "I'll f------ kill you," "I'll f------ shoot you," and "I'm going to put a bullet in your brain" at different points of the altercation.

After the passenger side front window was broken by officer Scott Lesser with a baton, Ellerman moved to the back seat.

The K9 is then lifted into the truck's cab by the Scott Lesser, after which the dog attacked Ellerman. As the dog is being lifted into the truck, Ellerman can be heard saying that he doesn't actually have a gun.

The head of the dog and Ellerman are obstructed by the driver's seat in the video, but Ellerman can be heard screaming as the dog is on top of him in the body camera footage.

Warning: The below videos contain strong language and footage that may be graphic to some viewers.

Watch the full video here 

Watch the below video here