Mark Neal acknowledges that he led Fairfax County police on a lengthy foot chase through the woods and back yards of McLean one night in May. But after more than an hour of darting around in the dark, with a police dog on his trail and the county police helicopter overhead, Neal said he surrendered.
"They told me, 'Put your hands behind your head and lay down,' " Neal, 52, recalled recently. Then, Neal alleged, the dog's handler said, "Bite him, bite him," and the dog tore into his back.
"He told the dog to bite me five times, at least," Neal said. Police called an ambulance to take Neal to the hospital, Fairfax fire and rescue records show.
Photos taken two days later show several wounds, which were still visible 10 days after the incident. Medical records from Inova Fairfax Hospital state that Neal had suffered "one fang mark in upper center area of back and two large scratches."
Fairfax police denied that the dog's handler sicced the dog on Neal, and said they believe the dog captured Neal and then sat on him.
The officer "never, ever told [the dog] to bite," Fairfax police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings said. "And he never intended for the dog to bite, if indeed that's what he did."
But a complaint filed by Neal has led to an internal investigation of the incident. The investigation has not been completed, Jennings said. Because the investigation is considered a "personnel matter," police will not disclose whether any action was taken against the officer or reveal his name even when the investigation is completed, Jennings said. Two officers who Neal said were at the scene did not return calls seeking comment.
Neal was charged with being drunk in public, a misdemeanor, and the case is pending.
"I think it's unforgivable what they did to me," Neal said. "I had surrendered."
Neal, who lives in McLean, said he spent the early morning hours of May 4 at the Peking Pub in McLean. He left about 2 a.m., he said, and drove home to Dead Run Drive. He declined to discuss how much he had to drink at the Peking Pub, since he faces a public intoxication charge, but he said he was not given a blood test after his arrest.
Neal said he suspected that the police had parked near the bar and might be following him, so when he got home, he climbed out of his van before officers arrived. He said he moved around for the next hour, sometimes hiding under cars to avoid the helicopter's heat-seeking camera.
But when he walked through a friend's yard on his way home about 3 a.m., he said, an officer caught him. "He said, 'Stop, you're under arrest,' " Neal said. "So I did. He told me I was wasting his time. And then they sicced the dog on me."
Jennings said the police dog, and not an officer, actually captured Neal, and that the dog sat on Neal's back. The dog failed to alert the police to Neal's presence by barking, Jennings said, so the officer sent the dog back toward Neal, then recalled him, in an effort to correct the dog's behavior.
"The dog did not bite him at that point," Jennings said. Officers at the scene "flatly deny that the dog was ever instructed to bite the guy. . . . There were training issues with the dog. They have been worked with."
Neal said that the dog did not find him first and that the dog was instructed to attack. "They sicced the dog on me for revenge," Neal said. "Because I wasted their time, supposedly."