Dr. Kimberly Muktarian, Contributing Columnist with The Carolinian
A Wake County Sheriff’s Department officer released a dog on a 15-year-old girl. She was mauled by the dog so severely that she still has no sensation in parts of her legs two years later.
This incident happened on August 28, 2016, but it has scary similarities to police dog attacks on black people in the 1960s.
Sade Tomlinson, now 17 years old, is still trying to heal mentally from an attack that she may never heal from physically. Back in 2016 she and three of her friends were heading home when they passed a sheriff’s patrol car. The driver of the car got nervous, panicked and swerved into a ditch.
Being fearful of police brutality in Southeast Raleigh, the teenagers got out of the car and ran to a nearby neighborhood.
They had not been drinking. The car was not stolen. There were no drugs. There were no guns. The only factor in this accident was fear.
When the teens ran away from the car they were ignorantly committing a crime. It is unlawful to leave the scene of an accident in North Carolina. What happened next was gruesome.
Tomlinson told The Carolinian in a recorded interview that when the teens reached the neighborhood one of them looked back and saw a dog charging towards them. The canine caught up to Tomlinson and began viciously attacking her.
The attack lasted so long that many of the neighborhood’s residents had time to come out and try to lend assistance. They threw sticks, a bat, tried to pull the dog off and even pleaded with the officer on scene to shoot the dog.
The officer on the scene was reported to have said that he could not shoot the dog because he would shoot the girl as well. And that he could not get the dog off of Tomlinson because it was not his dog.
The canine attacked Tomlinson so viciously that it ripped off all of her clothing. She was lying in the street almost completely naked and helpless to stop the attack.
Roughly 15 minutes later the officer responsible for the canine arrived and took control of it without even a single verbal command.
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said that in Tomlinson’s case, the dog broke away from the handler and that the handler called the dog off immediately when he located him. The problem here is that the handler didn’t locate his dog for almost 15 minutes.
Law enforcement K9’s are highly trained, but trained to do what? Had the officer not shown up would the dog have killed Tomlinson?
“We never want to hurt anybody, but we have a job to do,” Harrison said. “And if we don’t do our job, crime is going to escalate.” But who are the criminals in this situation?
Sade engaged an attorney to represent her against the sheriff’s department, but her attorney dropped her for being unable to pay.
The Carolinian will air the complete interview with Sade Tomlinson next week on their YouTube channel. A link will be published on the website at .
Tomlinson’s story is unfortunately not unique. Just last month a young man named Kyrone Hinton of Wake County also got attacked by a sheriff’s K9.
Hinton’s video footage is due to be released this week. As soon as it is available it will be posted on The Carolinian’s website.