June 27, 2023
Lawsuit: Covington police dog ‘mauled’ innocent man in case of mistaken identity in 2022
COVINGTON, Ky. — A Covington police K-9 was released on an innocent man sleeping in a wooded area because officers wrongly believed he was someone violating a protection order, according to a federal lawsuit filed last month in United States District Court in Covington.
The incident happened in June 2022 and was recorded on an officer’s body-worn camera.
Sean Davis said he was asleep in a hammock when he was grabbed by the K-9 and pulled to the ground.
“I was in fear for my life, no question,” Davis told the WCPO 9 I-Team. “I’ve never felt that powerless in my life.”
Last month, nearly a year after the incident, Davis filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Covington and K-9 officer Michael Lusardi. The suit claims Davis’ civil rights were violated and that he’s a victim of excessive force, negligence, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Officers were there searching for a different man, according to the Covington police incident report.
According to that report, a woman told police that her violent ex-boyfriend — who had been sentenced to prison for assaulting an officer — was hiding in these woods near her campsite in violation of her protection order.
Acting on that information, officers and a K-9 arrived at the campsite near the Licking Riverand looked for the man. Police body-worn camera video shows the K-9 being allowed to go deeper into the area where the dog grabbed Davis out of his hammock.
“Help, help,” Davis yelled on the police video. “Help me.”
“Show your hands now, dude,” an officer ordered Davis.
Davis said while an officer had him pinned to the ground and under control, the K-9 bit down on him again.
“What did I do wrong?” Davis wailed. “Don’t let him get me anymore.”
Officers put Davis in handcuffs, stood him up and asked him to identify himself.
“My name is Sean Davis,” he said. “Sean Maurice Davis.”
According to the police incident report, Davis wasn’t the man accused of violating the protection order.
But despite providing officers with his ID, and repeatedly giving his name and social security number, Davis remained in handcuffs.
“Yeah, you’re going to jail,” one officer told Davis on BWC footage.
The video shows an officer telling Davis to get in his police vehicle.
“Try to scoot your butt straight over so you don’t get blood all over the car,” the officer told Davis. “Try to keep that arm off the seat.”
Davis remained in handcuffs for 37 minutes, according to the BWC footage.
According to the police incident report, Davis was treated and released at a hospital, and wasn’t charged.
“The officer drove me right back to where I was actually in the hammock sleeping,” Davis said.
“I think they believed Mr. Davis was expendable and what happened was just a mistake,” Davis’ attorney Anita Washington said.
Washington, an attorney with the law firm Bey & Associates, provided the I-Team with the police body-worn camera video and the incident report.
The police report mentions that Davis was transported to a hospital, but it doesn’t reveal that a K-9 bit Davis, or that he was handcuffed and detained.
“Had it not been for the body-worn camera footage, we would not have any idea of the atrocity that occurred there,” Washington said.
Covington Police Chief Brian Valenti, City Manager Ken Smith and an attorney representing the City of Covington and Officer Michael Lusardi declined to comment on the lawsuit.
But in a court filing, the city and Lusardi denied the lawsuit’s claims — adding that Lusardi was “acting within the course and scope of his employment” and that Davis’ “injuries and/or damages were caused solely as a result of his own acts or omissions.”
Davis left Covington and moved to Adams County, where he lives on property owned by a local church. It’s a place where Davis says he’s finding support in his effort to find peace and a renewed commitment to improving his life.
“I can tell you I’ve learned to appreciate things a lot more,” said Davis.