Andrew S. Amann admits he broke into a College Park apartment Nov. 25, 1998, and bolted when police arrived.
Amann admits he then was cornered and captured by a Prince George's County police canine officer behind a church on Route 1.
What happened next is now a matter of dispute in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
In a civil lawsuit, Amann, 28, alleges that he surrendered peacefully, then was brutalized by Cpl. Anthony Mileo, a member of the police department's canine unit.
According to the lawsuit, Mileo ordered Amann to put his hands up and get on the ground, which Amann did.
"Mileo then struck Amann with his flashlight on the back of his head and methodically directed and encouraged the dog to (bite) him from his left shoulder down the side of the arm, torso, buttocks, leg, and ankle," the lawsuit alleges.
The blow to the head left Amann with 12 stitches, and the dog bites left his shoulder, arm, torso, leg and ankle permanently disfigured, according to the lawsuit, which alleges civil rights violations and false arrest and seeks $2 million in punitive and compensatory damages.
Amann's attorneys originally filed the lawsuit in Prince George's Circuit Court; at the request of Assistant County Attorney Laura J. Gwinn, who is defending Mileo on behalf of the county, the lawsuit was moved last month to U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. In court papers, Gwinn said the federal court should have jurisdiction partly because Amann has alleged his civil rights were violated.
Deputy County Attorney John Bielec said Amann's lawsuit is without merit but declined to comment further.
H. Jeffrey Tabb, Amann's Greenbelt attorney, declined to comment. No court date has been set.
Amann's lawsuit is at least the third pending suit alleging that Mileo used his police dog to brutalize suspects. One of those lawsuits was scheduled to go to trial in Prince George's Circuit Court yesterday, and the other is scheduled to go to trial in Circuit Court on Feb. 1.
There are at least 14 civil lawsuits alleging excessive force pending against members of the county police department's 23-officer canine unit.
Since early last year, the FBI has been investigating whether the Prince George's police canine unit has engaged in a pattern of brutality. The FBI also is investigating an incident in June in which an officer set her dog on an unarmed robbery suspect who allegedly was resisting arrest; the suspect was critically injured when the dog bit an artery in his leg.
In May, after The Washington Post reported on the lawsuits and the FBI investigation, County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D) and Police Chief John S. Farrell announced a series of changes in how police dogs are trained and deployed, which they said would reduce unnecessary and excessive attacks.
Like most police agencies on the East Coast, the county police canine unit had for decades trained its dogs to bite suspects as soon as they find them. Curry and Farrell announced that county canine officers would retrain their dogs in the "guard and bark" method used by many West Coast police agencies; under this method, police dogs keep suspects at bay by barking loudly, biting only if the suspect attacks or flees.
The Nov. 25, 1998, incident involving Amann--before the policy change--began in the 7500 block of Hopkins Avenue in College Park, according to Prince George's Circuit Court records.
Amann and another man broke a window to get into the apartment in an effort to burglarize it, according to court records. A neighbor who heard the break-in called police, who arrived quickly as Amann and the other man ran away, according to court records.
A statement of charges filed by police said that Mileo deployed his police dog and that Amann was arrested after a brief struggle. Amann was treated at Prince George's Hospital Center for his injuries, according to the statement of charges.
On April 6, 1999, Amann pleaded guilty in Prince George's Circuit Court to one count of first-degree burglary, according to court records. Circuit Court Judge Joseph S. Casula sentenced Amann to eight years in prison, with all but 18 months suspended. Casula also ordered that Amann be placed on unsupervised probation for two years.
Amann's attorney said Amann is no longer incarcerated and is out working but declined to say more.
According to Circuit Court records, Amann pleaded guilty in 1992 to possession of a controlled, dangerous substance--a marijuana cigarette--and was fined, according to court records. In 1991, Amann pleaded guilty to one count of housebreaking and was sentenced to three years of probation, according to court records.