The Long Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to pay $437,500 in order to settle a lawsuit involving a man who alleged he was sleeping when a police dog burst into his room and mauled him in 2019.
In his lawsuit against the city, Bobby Aceves alleges his civil rights were violated and that Long Beach Police Department officers acted negligently and used excessive force when they allowed a K9 to attack him while they searched a home after arresting a shooting suspect.
In court papers, the city denied that Aceves’ rights were violated and contended that officers’ actions were “lawful, justified, reasonable” and “in good faith.”
But on Tuesday, the City Council agreed during its closed session meeting to settle Aceves’ case and pay out the $437,500. The City Attorney’s Office did not immediately comment on the decision.
According to Aceves’ lawsuit, he was attacked by the dog while officers were serving a search warrant in the 200 block of Artesia Boulevard on Dec. 17, 2019, following the arrest of 41-year-old Benjamin Green in connection to three different shootings spanning the course of two years.
Aceves, who was at the home that day, says that he was sick and had just gone to sleep after taking cold medicine at around 1:30 p.m. when the K9 suddenly burst through his bedroom door and “viciously” attacked him.
As a wounded Aceves crawled out of the bedroom and into the hallway, officers placed him in handcuffs, took him into custody on suspicion of obstructing an officer and left him bleeding outside while they finished a search of the home, according to the lawsuit.
The attack left Aceves with bites to his arm, leg, butt and a partial tear of his Achilles tendon, according to his lawsuit.
Aceves was taken to a hospital before being booked into jail and held for two days, according to his lawsuit. He was then released because there wasn’t evidence to file any type of charges against him, according to the complaint filed by Aceves’ attorneys.
“At no point did Mr. Aceves pose a reasonable threat of violence or danger to the Defendants or to any other individual,” according to the complaint. “Additionally, Defendants acted entirely without probable cause or reasonable suspicion that Mr. Aceves had committed, was committing, or would commit any crime.”
Aceves alleged he still hasn’t recovered completely, with ongoing pain, difficulty walking and “severe emotional distress,” among other conditions.
Attorneys for the city of Long Beach admitted in their court filings that police used a K9 during their search of the home and allowed the dog to search without a handler using a leash.
However, the City Attorney’s Office argued that the officers acted within the scope of the law and that any injuries that Aceves suffered were caused “solely by reason of [his] own wrongful acts and conduct, and not by reason of any unlawful acts or omissions” of any officers.
“[Aceves] knew, or should have known, that he was being detained, investigated, or questioned by a peace officer, and had the duty to refrain from using force to resist such arrest, detention, investigation, or questioning,” according to the city’s response to his complaint.
In addition, the City Attorney’s Office argued that Aceves had no basis for a lawsuit because officers carried out the search legally, and if there was any use of force, it only amounted to an unintentional act.
Aceves’ attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Long Beach Post.