Arizona Sheriff's Office Probe Into K9 Mauling Drags On | Phoenix New Times

Sheriff Penzone Stalls on Probe Into K9 Mauling of Jailed, Handcuffed Man

It's a "huge, long case."
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
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The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office opened two investigations in 2017 after deputies unleashed a K9 officer on Shane McGough in a holding cell, allowing the dog to maul the handcuffed man's leg for three minutes as he screamed in pain.

Both investigations remain in limbo nearly two years later.

A criminal investigation into two deputies involved in the mauling was completed in April 2019, but is awaiting review from an internal affairs captain, agency spokesperson Sergeant Joaquin Enriquez said Monday. Prosecutors have met with MCSO staff over the investigation, he said, but the case has not been officially submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

An administrative investigation into whether the deputies violated department policy has been suspended, pending the completion of the criminal case.

Approached at a diner on Tuesday morning, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone declined to comment on the specifics of either investigation.

McGough's case received significant local media attention about a year ago after Phoenix New Times published body camera footage of the canine attack. (Watch the video below.)

The incident began on July 15, 2017, when MCSO Deputy Shaun Eversole sicced K9 officer Shadow on McGough as he was being held in a cell on suspicion of assaulting an officer. The dog latched onto McGough's upper thigh and buttocks for nearly three minutes as another MCSO deputy, Alden Jamaal Jackson, pinned McGough to the ground and removed his cuffs.

U.S. Forest Service officer Kelly Fleming was also involved in the incident, which took place near Tonto National Forest. Eversole directed Shadow to bite McGough after the detainee hurled profanities at Fleming.

McGough was left with deep puncture wounds that turned into permanent scars on his thigh and buttocks. He filed a federal lawsuit in 2018 against both deputies Eversole and Jackson, Forest Service officer Fleming, and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, claiming civil rights violations in what his attorney described as "torture."

Addressing the case in September 2018, Penzone alluded to the investigation of his deputies.

"If any details of that case require that I … hold people accountable and make changes, I will," Penzone said during a press conference.

But the sheriff stressed that McGough was being held at the time for assaulting an officer.

click to enlarge
The bite wounds on McGough's upper thigh. This picture was taken days after the canine attack.
Courtesy of Shane McGough
"I'm far more concerned with the injuries that were sustained to my deputy who may not return to [his] career than the injuries that were sustained by the individual who carried out that violence," Penzone said.

On the morning of the incident, McGough was involved in an altercation with two other MCSO deputies that left one deputy, David Crissinger, with a broken leg. Crissinger is still out on leave, Enriquez said.

Months after his arrest, McGough pleaded guilty to aggravated assault on an officer. He served six months in jail.

McGough could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Steven Guy, said McGough does not have faith in the Sheriff's Office to conduct a fair investigation.

"My client was interviewed by the investigator almost a year ago. It was a very long time ago. They've had the body cameras from the beginning," Guy said. "There's no objective, serious investigation going on."

He added: "Paul Penzone has talked about transparency in these kinds of cases, and I feel they have been less than transparent in the investigation they've claimed to have done."

McGough's federal civil lawsuit is also moving slowly. In February 2019, a federal judge dismissed Jackson and Fleming as defendants. Civil rights and battery claims against Eversole and the Sheriff's Office remain in litigation.

Guy said he has asked the Sheriff's Office to participate in settlement discussions and that the department is considering the request.
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