An elderly man, who was viciously attacked by a police K-9 when attempting to save his neighbor’s cat, is seeking justice in court.
On the night of January 1, 2015, Richard May, 64, used a borrowed stool to climb over a 7-foot fence of a construction site before climbing up scaffolding on an unfinished building to help his 73-year-old neighbor, Sharon Coster, rescue her black and white cat, Domino. During his attempt to retrieve the cat, a deputy of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department set his K-9 on him.
As May was climbing the scaffolding, the K-9 bit his right leg and dragged him to the ground. “I was scratching and screaming. I was trying to escape in my mind. I couldn’t believe what was going on,” May recalled to an eight-member jury in the Federal Building courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler.
Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Laughlin was the deputy responsible for Riggs, the K-9 who attacked Richard May back in 2015. Chris Laughlin, as well as two other deputies, had been responding to a call that had reported an alleged burglary seen on surveillance video at the construction site.
May claims that he did not receive a warning before the deputies ordered their K-9 on him. Meanwhile, the county and Laughlin said May had been ordered to show his hands and drop to the ground but didn’t comply and remained standing in the shadows. The deputies, allegedly fearing for their life and suspecting that May had been conducting an armed commercial burglary, released the dog.
In the court last week, May said that he “absolutely [did] not” hear Laughlin’s order. Instead, he describes seeing the two dark silhouettes of the deputies about 100 yards away. Assuming they were security officers, May stood still and awaited for them to approach and question him.
“I stayed right where I was because I was expecting a conversation,” May said. May claims that the only sound he heard was a “very loud guttural sound which I interpreted as an attack word.”
“The dog immediately at full speed was running my way,” and bit his leg, May said.
The deputies then ordered May to get on the ground – he dropped to the ground with the dog still biting him. The dog was called off once the deputies had handcuffed May. Paramedics were called to the scene and treated May’s wound with antiseptic. Before being taken to a hospital for the treatment that he required, the deputies took him to the sheriff’s station to be interviewed.
To add insult to injury, when at the hospital, Deputy Laughlin attached a sticker saying “I met Riggs” to May’s shirt and took a photo of him wearing it. He then proceeded to drop two tickets, notices to appear in court for alleged misdemeanors of trespassing and resisting arrest, into May’s lap.
Although the district attorney later declined to prosecute May on those charges, May is not seeking justice for the attack. Deputy Laughlin is still walking the streets. We wonder if he has added any other “I met Riggs” photos to his collection in the last two-and-half years.