Mark Mundell was sitting in his pickup truck outside of the Best Buy store in Porter Ranch when he heard a policeman shouting his name, demanding that he put his hands in the air.
As he did, the Simi Valley Police Department K-9 officer, Richard Wiggington, who apparently has a history of not controlling his dog, swung open the passenger door. He then let his canine, Taz, inside the truck and shut the door.
The next thing Mundell remembers is the dog sinking its teeth into his thigh.
All this is according to a lawsuit recently filed in Los Angeles federal court by Mundell against Wiggington and the City of Simi Valley. Mundell claims that he tried to defend himself, but Wiggington threatened to shoot him if Mundell touched the dog.
Mundell says he pleaded with Wiggington to help, and finally the officer controlled his animal.
However, Wiggington then “maliciously directed Taz to bite, puncture and tear at [Mundell's] body,” states the lawsuit. Mundell says he fell out of his truck, the dog still biting him, and that Wiggington did not tell Taz to relent until Mundell was in handcuffs.
After Mundell was taken to the hospital, he was charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest in Ventura County, where he pleaded no contest. The incident, however, occurred in Los Angeles County, a separate jurisdiction, so several months later the conviction was erased on a technicality.
You'd think the story ends there, but it doesn't. Mundell claims in the lawsuit that after he was attacked, Wiggington and other police officers from Simi Valley continued to threaten and harass him, showing him photos of the dog attack.
“When they saw [Mundell] around town,” Mundell's attorney, Thomas Beck, tells LA Weekly, “they showed him pictures of how the dog was biting him. They took cell phone photographs while this dog was mauling away on the guy.”
This is not the first time Beck has sued Wiggington over the control of his dog.
In 2004, Heriberto and Esmeralda Morales were at a wedding at the Simi Valley Boys & Girls Club when the police were called due to a fight near the party. Wiggington was among the officers who responded, and at one point, his dog bit Heriberto Morales.
Beck says he settled the case for around $250,000.
“It's the same cop, different dog,” says Beck. “Wiggington is a sadist.”
No one at the Simi Valley Police Department was immediately available for comment.
UPDATE: A Simi Valley police spokesman says the police department cannot comment on the allegations due to the pending litigation.