Attorney for woman attacked by SC K-9 says dog had previous attacks

DARLINGTON, S.C. (WBTW) – The attorney representing the woman who was attacked by a Darlington County Sheriff’s Office K-9 says last week’s bite is not the first time the dog has attacked an innocent person.

Attorney Rose Mary Parham says in a press release that 53-year-old Patrinola “Pat” Butler was attacked by the police dog Saturday night when she walked outside her home to see why the sheriff’s office deputies were in her neighborhood.

“The violent attack of my 53 year-old client is inexcusable,” states Parham in the release. “Pat remains hospitalized and continues to suffer from permanent, disfiguring injuries she received during Saturday night’s mauling.”

Lt. Robert Kilgo with the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office released the police report associated with the K-9 bite Thursday evening.

The report details that the sheriff’s office K-9 unit, to include K-9 Officer Sky, responded to a search for a burglary suspect on Kingston Road around 9 p.m. Saturday night. As the K-9 commander was getting out of his patrol vehicle, K-9 Sky was able to get from the back of the patrol SUV to the front seat and get out of the front driver side door before the deputy could close it.

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Deputy Joshua Phillips, the K-9 handler, called for Sky to return to the vehicle, but the dog did not listen. Deputy Phillips told everyone in the yard of the home to stand still. Other deputies on scene stopped moving, and Sky ran past those deputies. Sky ran toward the back of the home, and after several attempts to get the K-9 back into the vehicle, Sky returned and sat at the front of the deputy’s car, the report states.

The deputy says within the report, as Sky was sitting at the front of the car, two people started walking toward the group of deputies. Sky began running toward the two individuals, the report states. Deputy Phillips called Sky to come back, but the dog did not return. The deputy yelled for the two individuals to stop running and not move. One person stopped, and Sky ran past that individual to continue chasing the second person who continued to run, according to the report.

The report says Sky grabbed the woman’s left arm and pulled her to the ground. The woman tried to get off the ground and push Sky off of her, but the K-9 continued to pull the woman to the ground. Deputy Phillips ran toward the woman and Sky and when the deputy commanded Sky to release, the dog did so, the report says.

The victim was taken to the hospital to be treated for her wounds. The report states that witnesses at the scene refused to give a written statement.

The lawyers for the victim says Butler “was viciously attacked by Darlington County K-9 ‘Sky,’” and that Butler is not the first person the dog has attacked. Parham’s release claims that she “received confirmation yesterday from the Sheriff’s Office that Sky had previously bitten at least two other individuals.” Details about those two reported incidents were not included in the press release.

The sheriff’s office, however, denies that claim. In a release Thursday, Kilgo stated, “The incident remains under review and the K-9 was removed from active duty on December 9 until an evaluation by an independent outside agency can be conducted. All patrol vehicles equipped for the transportation of K-9s have been inspected by an independent outside agency. The K-9 is a trained apprehension K-9 and has apprehended noncompliant suspects in the past during the course of its duties. An incident of this nature has not occurred with this K-9 to the knowledge of the current administration.”

Parham concludes the press release by stating, “There is no excuse for having a savage, out of control K-9 alive much less a member of a Sheriff’s Office. Such an animal is an extreme danger to the citizens of Darlington County and a financial liability to the taxpayers of South Carolina.”

Parham’s entire statement:

The violent attack of my 53 year-old client is inexcusable. Pat remains hospitalized and continues to suffer from permanent, disfiguring injuries she received during Saturday night’s mauling. Pat was an innocent bystander who walked out of her home to see why police were in her neighborhood when she was viciously attacked by Darlington County K-9 “Sky.” Assuming that the incident report is an accurate version of events, which we do not concede, the report paints a horrifying picture of a K-9 that went rogue and failed to obey his master’s commands. We received confirmation yesterday from the Sheriff’s Office that Sky had previously bitten at least two other individuals. There is no excuse for having a savage, out of control K-9 alive much less a member of a Sheriff’s Office. Such an animal is an extreme danger to the citizens of Darlington County and a financial liability to the taxpayers of South Carolina.”

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