A woman who was arrested after she was the passenger in a car during a high-speed chase last year is suing the city of Monona and the town of Madison and two police officers, alleging they used excessive force by ordering a police dog to bite her leg and hold it in its jaws.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday night in U.S. District Court in Madison, states that after the dog attacked Martinique Walker at the command of one of the officers, two officers whose conversation was picked up later on body cameras discussed the attack, with Officer Jacob Ostrowski telling the other, “Yeah, God, I love that (expletive).”
Walker was a passenger in a car on June 18, 2019, that was suspected of having picked up suspects in a vehicle pursuit, according to a criminal complaint that was filed in the matter last year. The woman charged with having been the driver, Ana Brindley, then led police on a chase at speeds up to 119 mph, the complaint states. The car was eventually stopped using spike strips, coming to rest on Green Crest Court in Fitchburg, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit states that after the car was stopped nobody got out for several minutes. Walker then got out of the car, threw her purse down and sat on some grass with her hands up. Police had ordered Walker to walk toward them backward, but Walker said she couldn’t walk so she sat instead.
At most, the lawsuit states, Walker was “passively non-complying.”
The lawsuit states Walker asked to be allowed to get her phone from her purse, but town of Madison Sgt. James Brown became “increasingly agitated,” yelling that she needed to walk toward the officers and threatening to send his police dog at her.
As Walker continued to ask for her phone, the lawsuit states, Brown suddenly gave the dog the order to “kill him.” The dog, Tonto, bit Walker’s right thigh and pulled at it, while Brown shouted at Walker, “Show me your (expletive) hands.”
Walker was trying to use her hands to protect herself from Tonto, who only released his grip from Walker after Brown pulled him off of her, according to the lawsuit.
The criminal complaint alleged Walker had begun to move toward her purse and was told to stop but did not, and that’s when the dog was used.
After being taken to a hospital, another Monona officer told Walker she was bitten by Tonto and arrested because she was “a brat” and “because you chose to have a bad attitude and not do what you were told to do, now you got bit by a dog and you’re going to jail,” according to the lawsuit.
Walker was charged with obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor. She eventually pleaded no contest to a non-criminal county ordinance violation and paid a fine.
The lawsuit charges that the actions of Brown and Ostrowski — Brown for ordering the dog attack and Ostrowski for failing to intervene — were violations of Walker’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and her due process rights. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The town of Madison and the city of Monona, as employers of the officers, are responsible for their actions, the lawsuit states.
William Cole, attorney for Monona, said he had not yet reviewed the lawsuit. The town of Madison’s lawyer did not respond to messages seeking comment.
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