A Prince George's County judge has set a hearing for today on whether a robbery suspect who was seriously injured June 10 when a police dog severed an artery in his leg should be returned to a hospital because of potentially life-threatening medical complications.
The hearing comes six days after another judge ordered additional hospitalization for the suspect, Donald W. Blankenship Jr., an order that corrections official concede they have not followed. Blankenship is being treated in the medical ward of the county correctional center.
A doctor who examined Blankenship yesterday found that he may be suffering from thrombosis, a potentially life-threatening condition that could cause a sudden pulmonary embolism, according to Karl G. Feissner, Blankenship's attorney. The physician, Dora M. Mamodesene, examined Blankenship at Feissner's request.
Feissner said that Blankenship's right leg is swollen to a size that is much larger than his left leg.
County correctional officials dispute Mamodesene's assessment.
Vicki Duncan, a spokeswoman for the county corrections department, said doctors in the correctional center's medical ward told her yesterday that Blankenship, 30, is doing well, is not suffering from complications and does not need to be hospitalized.
Blankenship underwent surgery to repair the artery and tend to other wounds immediately after the June 10 incident. He remained in Prince George's Hospital Center until June 16, when he was transferred to the medical ward.
At a bond hearing Friday, Blankenship said he had not received medical attention at the medical ward, and Circuit Court Judge Joseph S. Casula ordered that he be sent back to the hospital.
Duncan said yesterday that the order apparently was not transmitted to the correctional center, and doctors learned of it from a newspaper article the next day. But because they determined Blankenship was doing well, he has not been moved to a hospital, Duncan said.
Judge Graydon S. McKee III will preside over today's hearing on Blankenship's renewed request for medical attention.
The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into whether the county police canine officer who set her police dog on Blankenship violated his civil rights.
The bureau's probe of the Blankenship incident comes as the federal agency is conducting a broader investigation into whether the county's 23-officer canine unit has engaged in a pattern of brutality.
At least 13 civil lawsuits alleging excessive force by members of the canine corps are pending in Prince George's Circuit Court or U.S. District Court.
Blankenship was bitten after he allegedly tried to flee police after he bailed out of a stolen red truck at a roadblock at New Hampshire Avenue and Oakview Road.
Police were chasing Blankenship after he allegedly attempted a strong-arm robbery of a department store clerk in Landover Hills and grabbed money from a cash register at a Greenbelt gas station.
Prince George's police said that after Blankenship got out of the truck, he fought with officers who tried to arrest him and then tried to run away.
At that point, police said, a canine officer, who learned of the chase from her police radio and went to the scene, released her dog on Blankenship, police said.
A videotape made by WUSA-TV (Channel 9) showed a pool of blood just below the driver's-side door of the truck, indicating that Blankenship was bitten just outside the truck.