The city of Santa Monica will pay $99,000 to a man who sued after a Santa Monica Police Department officer ordered his canine partner to bite the man’s leg during an arrest.

City Attorney Lane Dilg said that the city agreed to settle the case initiated by Jovane Leonard, 43, to avoid the expense and burden of litigation and the settlement does not agree to any liability or wrongdoing on the part of the city.

According to SMPD records obtained by The Daily Press, officer Phillip De Ryck responded to a call at 11:40 am. on June 25, 2018 about Leonard allegedly punching someone in the face and taking a pair of sunglasses from Spokes N’ Stuff at 1715 Ocean Front Walk before returning to the store and fighting an employee.

An officer at the scene described Leonard as a black man between 25 and 30 years old, about 6 feet tall and wearing a red t-shirt, gray pants and a green backpack.

When De Ryck arrived at the scene, he said he saw officer Kyle Crane get out of his car and speak with Leonard.

“From where I was I could see Leonard was noticeably larger than Officer Crane,” he said in an internal memo describing the incident. “Leonard was also wearing baggy clothes and carrying a large backpack. Based on my training and experience suspects can conceal weapons within their baggy clothing and backpacks.”

De Ryck then retrieved his canine partner, Kai, from his vehicle. While he did so, he said he could see Crane and officer Jason Olson struggling with Leonard and trying to get his hands out of his waistband. He said Leonard appeared to be overpowering the two officers.

“I was giving Leonard commands to stop resisting and to comply, but I could hear him saying he did nothing wrong,” De Ryck said. “Based on the violent nature of the robbery, the level at which Leonard was resisting Officer Crane and Officer Olson and the possibility Leonard was armed I determined it would be reasonable to direct Kai to control his leg by latching on with his mouth. Once Kai latched onto Leonard it appeared to end his desire to resist.”

De Ryck said he activated his body camera during the incident and determined from watching the footage that Kai was attached to Leonard’s leg for about 20 seconds.

The two officers handcuffed Leonard and De Ryck removed Kai from his leg, he said. The officers then requested an ambulance for Leonard and transported him to Santa Monica Emergency Hospital.

Leonard sustained a laceration four inches tall and two inches wide on the front of his right calf and four lacerations and a puncture wound on the back of his right calf.

Court records show that Leonard was booked at the Santa Monica Police Station at about 6 p.m. on the same day, June 25. He was released on July 14, 2018 after posting bond and was arrested again by SMPD on July 18 for resisting a police officer.

Leonard filed a lawsuit against the city of Santa Monica on Nov. 20, 2018.

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1 Comment

  1. Great job City Attorney! I’ll take a bite on the leg for $99,000! What a STUPID settlement! This will just encourage more criminals to sue when they commit crimes then get hurt because they resist a lawful arrest. When Marsha Moutrie and Jeanette Schachtner and Debbie Kanoff were there the City would have fought this case all the way. It would SAVE MONEY in the long run.

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