GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A felon whose face was partially chewed off by a Department of Public Safety K-9 is planning to sue the department for $2 million.
Carlos Balli was on the run after stealing a car on Jan. 17. After a DPS trooper chased him for a while, he hopped out of the car in Glendale and started running, and eventually hid in a bush. DPS used heat signature video from a helicopter to direct three troopers and a K-9, Storm, to Balli’s hiding spot.
Det. Brad Martin, the dog’s handler, wrote in the case report that Balli was not responding to his commands to show his hands, so he sent Storm to go after him. Balli’s attorney Joel Robbins disagrees and says Balli had started to raise his hands in the air when the dog pounced.
[GRAPHIC PHOTOS: Notice of claim from Carlos Balli]
“He’s in the process of giving himself up and accepting the consequence of whatever happens in the criminal venue, and then they let the dog on him,” Robbins said. “And then the dog jumps in and grabs his face and just -- as the officer’s pulling the dog back, he doesn’t seem to release and eventually rips his face, degloves his face.”
Martin wrote that Balli was kicking and hitting the dog and that Storm released his bite on Balli’s face quickly. In the video, though, it looks like at least 10 seconds pass before the dog releases his hold.
“You can see in the pictures that are taken in the hospital where his nose is ripped off of his skull and it’s hanging down,” Robbins said. “The first time Carlos came into our office, he almost didn’t look -- he almost looked like a Muppet than like a human being. He was puffy. He had huge rips, huge scars across his face.”
Martin wrote that Balli’s face was the only body part visible. We asked DPS about which body parts K-9s are trained to bite, but they said the training is done before the dogs ever come to DPS, and the training they receive is not specialized to any one department. Other than that clarification, DPS declined to comment on Balli’s specific case or notice of claim.
In the notice of claim, Robbins says Martin and Storm were also involved in a controversial 2017 case, where a suspect filed a federal suit against DPS, claiming the dog bit his leg for 44 seconds.
“That dog should either have a different handler or be held more in control or should just be retired,” said Robbins.
The notice of claim is just the required first step of an eventual lawsuit. The civil case could drag out for a year or more. Robbins hopes for a settlement before having to go to trial but isn’t necessarily expecting one.
Balli already pleaded guilty to three felonies -- stealing a car, running from police and drug possession. His sentencing for those crimes is set for July 29.