A Tucson woman who was abducted by a former roommate is suing the police department for negligence and excessive force, after she was bit several times by a police dog while already under arrest, documents show.
Angelica Maria de la Rosa says the injuries to her right leg have left her unable to negotiate stairs without falling or stand for more than a short period of time, according to the Oct. 6 lawsuit filed in Pima County Superior Court.
In October 2015, de la Rosa was at her father’s house when she saw her former roommate, David Lopez, drive by in a van they shared. After he saw her, Lopez returned to the house and began punching her in to the face, before throwing her into the van, the lawsuit said.
He drove off and continued to hit de la Rosa in the head while he drove. A short time later, he called Tucson Police Department and reported that de la Rosa had “hijacked” the van and he was headed to a convenience store on foot, where he agreed to meet the officers, according to the lawsuit.
TPD put out an alert regarding the stolen car, and soon located the van and started a pursuit. Lopez sped away, pulled into a driveway and jumped out of the van, dragging de la Rosa with him and ran into an alley. He threw her inside a shed before running away, the lawsuit said.
Lopez was eventually caught by police and charged with domestic violence on de la Rosa, the lawsuit said.
De la Rosa “remained seated during the rest of the time, slightly concussed from the beating to the head administered by Lopez,” the lawsuit said.
Using a police dog, officers found de la Rosa inside the shed and told her she was under arrest. She remained seated with her hands “held high” while two officers questioned her in the shed with the police dog, Evo, sniffing around her.
Without any command from Officer Jeff Rumsley, his handler, Evo bit de la Rosa on the leg, the lawsuit said.
She screamed and Rumsley pulled Evo away, and the officers continued to question her after reporting a dog bite to TPD, according to the lawsuit.
Evo returned to where de la Rosa was sitting and bit her again, “biting into the flesh along a straight line close by the original bite,” the lawsuit said. One of the officers grabbed Evo by the collar and threw him to the rear of the shed, but he returned again and bit her leg in the same spot.
“Plaintiff was screaming in pain and fear, traumatized at seeing parts of her leg on her shoe,” the lawsuit said.
At that point, the officers removed Evo from the shed and called for an ambulance, according to the lawsuit.
De la Rosa underwent surgery on her right leg and after her release from the hospital noticed her right leg was numb from the knee down.
The lawsuit says that de la Rosa experiences severe pain and has numbness that extends throughout her entire leg. A former restaurant manager, de la Rosa is no longer working in that occupation.
The suit names the police department, the city, Officer Rumsley and Officer Stephen Parker as defendants, and alleges gross negligence, civil rights violation and excessive use of force. No dollar amount is specified.
Margaret Phillips, one of de la Rosa’s attorneys, declined comment. City Attorney Mike Rankin has previously told the Star that he’s unable to comment on pending court cases.