A man who on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against a Salt Lake City K-9 officer for unnecessarily unleashing a police dog on him in July, was arrested following an afternoon news conference at his attorney’s office on charges related to the July episode.
Jackie Joseph Sanchez was arrested on a $5,000 warrant issued in connection with misdemeanor charges of assault against a police officer, interference with an arresting officer and disorderly conduct.
Sanchez, 61, was charged with the counts on Aug. 8, and a summons was sent for him to appear in 3rd District Court on Sept. 11. When he failed to appear for the hearing, a judge issued a $5,000 arrest warrant.
Police apparently learned that Sanchez’s attorney, Robert Sykes, was holding a 2 p.m. news conference to discuss the lawsuit with news media.
Sanchez’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, claims Officer Benjamin Hone needlessly released a police dog, causing “horrific” to-the-bone injuries and 42 bite marks to Sanchez, resulting in multiple surgeries and $30,000 in medical bills.
The lawsuit alleges that Salt Lake City Officer Jose Munoz was dispatched on a report of two intoxicated males causing a disturbance at a bus stop at 430 S. State St. — in front of Matheson Courthouse — at 5:10 p.m. July 28.
Despite Munoz being dispatched, Hone responded to the call and arrived before Munoz, the lawsuit states. Hone didn’t have his body camera with him.
The lawsuit states that Hone encountered Sanchez and Melvin Begay, who were not causing a disturbance.
According to the lawsuit, Hone claims Sanchez was verbally aggressive and taunted Hone, saying he would fight him.
Hone, a police dog handler, retrieved his dog from the car. He told Sanchez to stay seated, but Sanchez allegedly stood and walked toward Hone. Hone sicced the dog on Sanchez, the lawsuit claims.
The subsequent attack caused deep puncture wounds and lacerations to Sanchez’s left leg. Sanchez’s thumb also was lacerated and fractured. The lawsuit claims not only that Hone was reckless in releasing the dog but waited an “unusually long period of time” before calling the dog off.
The lawsuit references case law stating that an officer trained to use a police dog is responsible for how the dog is deployed.
The lawsuit is seeking damages to be determined at trial. The suit claims the city is liable because the police department improperly trained Hone and instituted policies that resulted in the unconstitutional dog attack.
A Salt Lake City Police Department news release says Sanchez “repeatedly threatened to assault our officer, as shown on surveillance video and corroborated by multiple eye witnesses. The officer warned Sanchez about his aggression but ultimately had to deploy his K-9 in order to prevent further assault and take the suspect into custody.”
Earlier on Wednesday, police spokesman Sgt. Greg Wilking confirmed that Hone was still with the department but said he could not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit claims that while Sanchez was intoxicated, he was not causing a disturbance. It says Sanchez was never an immediate threat of serious injury or death to anyone, and that at most he was being minimally noncompliant when the dog was released.
“The unreasonable, excessive, and dangerous force used by Hone evidenced a reckless and deliberate indifference to the life, safety, and well-being of Mr. Sanchez,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims excessive force by Hone, unlawful or deficient policies on behalf of the city and police department, a failure to train or supervise on behalf of the city and police department and a civil rights violation of unlawful seizure on behalf of Hone.
Utah court records show that Sanchez has misdemeanor convictions dating back to 1991, including simple assault, retail theft, public intoxication, criminal trespass and open container in a public place.
This story will be updated.