Maricopa County has agreed to settle a lawsuit with a man who was mauled by a K9 for three minutes while handcuffed in a cell.
Shane McGough, the plaintiff in the case, will be paid $25,000, according to a signed settlement agreement obtained by Phoenix New Times through a public records request.
Attorneys for both McGough and the defendants, who include Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, jointly filed a motion to dismiss the case with prejudice in federal court on May 5 following the settlement.
The lawsuit stemmed from a 2017 arrest during which McGough was detained by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies and a U.S. Forest Service Officer near the Salt River, where he had been tubing with friends. A scuffle allegedly took place between officers and McGough, culminating in his take-down. One of the involved deputies, David Crissinger, broke his leg during the tackle. McGough was handcuffed and taken to a nearby substation. Inside a holding cell at the station, Deputy Shaun Eversole sicced a K9 on McGough for around three minutes while he was still handcuffed. Roughly a year later, McGough filed a lawsuit against Penzone, Eversole, and the other involved officers in federal court, alleging that they committed "assault" and "torture."
While the litigation proceeded, the MCSO opened internal and criminal probes into the incident, which dragged on for years. Phoenix New Times eventually obtained the case files and reported that Eversole and most of the other deputies involved in the incident were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Steven Guy, the attorney who represented McGough in his federal lawsuit, said that the settlement award is "not nearly" what he thinks McGough deserved.
A combination of factors led McGough to agree to settle. His side had been handed several unfavorable rulings by the federal judge on the case, Diane J. Humetewa, like her decision to exclude one of their expert witnesses. The scope of the trial was also expanded to include what transpired at the scene where McGough was first arrested.
"Shane was not well-behaved out there at the parking lot and it showed," Guy said. "Federal court requires unanimous juries. There was a lot of risk."
McGough's own legal troubles were also a consideration, Guy added. After his arrest in 2017, McGough eventually pled guilty to aggravated assault on an officer and served six months in jail. And Crissinger, the deputy who broke his leg while trying to arrest McGough, filed a lawsuit against him, alleging negligence and assault and battery.
McGough "needed to move on," Guy said. "The reality was, there’s a civil case by Crissinger [and] restitution from his criminal conviction. He just needed it to end."
Edward Ladley, an attorney representing Crissinger in his lawsuit against McGough, did not respond to New Times' request for comment. Norma Gutierrez-Deorta, an MCSO spokesperson, also did not respond to a request for comment on the settlement.
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