Jury sides with city in K-9 attack

SALEM — A Marion County jury has ruled against a man who sued the city of Salem after he was bitten by a police dog.

John Hillebrand, 34, had sought up to $1 million for physical pain, emotional harm and legal fees, alleging that police entered a Salem home for a search in February 2013 and commanded a German Shepherd named Dillon to bite him while he was asleep.

After a three-day trial, a Marion County concluded Wednesday that the use of force was reasonable.

"Our officers acted appropriately, consistent with the law and the Police Department's policies," the city's attorney, Sarah Foreman, told the Statesman Journal.

Hillebrand said he did not resist arrest or pose any threat to officers and that the attack on his face and hip left him with permanent scars and other injuries.

"My arm was in the dog's mouth when I woke up," he said during a deposition. "It was one of the most painful things I've ever dealt with in my life, and one of the scariest ... Like this is way more traumatizing than having some guy gut me with a broadhead arrow."

Police painted a different picture, saying officers responded to reports that Hillebrand was at his ex-girlfriend's home, high on drugs and yelling. They said an officer repeatedly shouted that Hillebrand needed to leave or a K-9 dog would be deployed.

According to police, the officers searched the home and found Hillebrand under a bedsheet. An officer commanded Dillon to bark at the person under the sheet. Hillebrand refused orders to show his hands, and the officer told Dillon to pull him off the bed.

Hillebrand, who was unarmed, later told officers he could hear the dog barking but would not say why he declined to show his hands, police said.

He confessed to drinking alcohol and taking several Flexeril muscle relaxers and OxyContin opioids, police said.

Hillebrand was later convicted of assault, interfering with a police officer and contempt of court.

Dillon spent almost eight years with Salem police before retiring.

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