A Valley man is suing the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office after his attorney says his client was subjected to unlawful tactics that are "borderline torturous."
The incident in question took place in July 2017.
Shane McGough, 27, and a few friends had spent a few hours tubing on the Salt River. As the group prepared to leave, the truck he was in allegedly hit another vehicle. McGough’s attorney says officers determined no damage was caused to the vehicle.
Eventually, an altercation took place between the two drivers and Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the scene.
When a Sheriff’s deputy attempted to search the truck, McGough’s attorney admits his client intervened.
“He took somewhat an aggressive stance towards what he thought was an illegal search of the vehicle. He didn’t initiate any physical contact with these deputies,” said McGough’s attorney Steven Guy.
Guy says a scuffle took place between his client and two deputies.
The lawsuit alleges all three went down during the fight and one deputy was injured, suffering a broken leg. Guy says his client was not aware that a deputy had been injured at the time of the arrest.
Inside the truck, deputies found a handgun, which Guy says his client had no knowledge was there or made any motion that he was trying to reach for it.
McGough was hauled off to a nearby MCSO substation where he says his client was tortured in retaliation for the injuries the deputy sustained in the initial fight. His client was in handcuffs surrounded by deputies and a K9 officer in a holding cell.
“He was verbal, he was vocal but he did nothing to justify this horrific attack on him,” said Guy.
Bodycam video obtained by ABC15 from MGough’s attorney shows the event as it unfolded.
Guy says his client was vocal and in hindsight could’ve handled the situation differently but believes what deputies did to him was an abuse of power.
The lawsuit alleges while his client protested and questioned why he was being arrested, he says his client did nothing to instigate a fight.
Bodycam video shows McGough being verbal with officers. At one point it appears he tries to get up and a deputy pushes him down as another brushes a police K9 up against him.
The video shows McGough begin to get vocal with a female officer and it appears during that exchange she places her hands on his neck and pushes him back.
The lawsuit then alleges McGough was pulled to the ground and held on the floor as the K9 bit down on his backside.
Guy alleges his client, still handcuffed, was bit by the K9 for over three minutes. You can hear McGough scream in pain in the video, and eventually tell officers he will comply.
The lawsuit also alleges McGough did not get immediate and proper medical care for his injuries and alleges that the deputies falsified and were misleading in their incident reports of the attack.
ABC15 has obtained copies of the MCSO reports.
The K9 officer that deployed his K9 filed a report on the incident, which reads in part:
“During the escort, I verbally advised McGough to comply with the deputy and if he fought, he would get bit by the canine. We were able to enter the jail portion of Blue Point and into an open and empty jail cell. While in the cell, McGough continued to resist as Deputy Jackson was attempting to remove the handcuffs, which McGough had slipped to the front of his body from the position previously secured behind his back when he was placed into the patrol vehicle for transport. McGough began lunging at Deputy Jackson and was physically fighting, including kicking Officer K. Fleming from the US Forest Service. The fight went to the ground and I deployed Canine Shadow on a placement bite on McGough's upper rear portion of his right leg. McGough was still actively resisting and fighting. McGough was also kicking me while the canine was on the bite. The canine bite altered McGough's behavior and he even stated he would stop fighting if we removed the dog. When it was safe to do so, I removed Canine Shadow from the bite using a tactical out method.”
Meanwhile, Guy says the deputy who was injured in the initial struggle has filed a lawsuit against McGough but couldn’t comment since he is not representing his client in that case.
The Sheriff’s Office says it can not comment on ongoing litigation but Sheriff Paul Penzone released the following statement:
“The complexities of this event are and have been under thorough review, evaluation, and litigation. We will provide appropriate details and responses to this event at the conclusion of the internal investigation and litigation.”
Both sides sticking with their stories as McGough continues with his lawsuit hoping it leads to changes with how police treat people in custody.
“The use of a canine is only justified when there is a threat to people involved or others. There wasn’t a threat to any of the people in that holding cell,” said Guy.
ABC15 will update this story with more details as they become available.