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Man files lawsuit against Lower Paxton Township over police dog bites

The bites caused painful injuries and permanent disfigurement, according to the lawsuit
Credit: FOX43

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — A Dauphin County resident is suing Lower Paxton Township after a police dog was unleashed in his home and bit him during an arrest last year.

Justin Ashely, 31, is accusing several Lower Paxton police officers of using excessive force. A police dog allegedly bit his arm and chewed on his leg during the arrest, the lawsuit states.

Ashley was left disfigured and sustained painful injuries, according to reports.

Ashely's lawsuit named Public Safety Director Adam R. Kosheba Jr., member of Lower Paxton's K-0 Unit Chad Miller, Detective Daniel Smeck, and Patrolman Andrew Brady, as defendants. 

On May 29, 2021, Ashley and a neighbor of Ashley's girlfriend were involved in an altercation. Ashley was charged with felony aggravated assault after trying to run the neighbor over with a car, which injured the neighbors arm, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that law enforcement vehicles surrounded Ashley's home one week after the the assault warrant had been filed in court. 

Officials were allegedly armed with handguns and rifles when they surrounded Ashley's home on June 24. Kosheba and Smeck pounded on Ashley's door and threatened to break it down, according to reports.

Ashely lawsuit alleges that when he did not immediately open the door, they threatened to send in a "loudly barking" German Shepherd.  

Ashley, who allegedly suffered from mental illness and said police were aware, claimed his first instinct was to hide, as he was scared of the dog. 

Officers allegedly found Ashley in the storage closest, crouched behind a wooden desk. 

Officer Brady drew his gun, according to the lawsuit, and ordered Ashley to show his hands. Ashley's lawsuit claims he followed orders. 

However, as soon as Officers Miller and Smeck entered the area with the police dog, Ashley alleges he "froze" and in response, Officer Miller deployed the K9 off the leash and issued the bite command.

The lawsuit claims that officers watched as Miller lifted the dog over the desk to bite Ashley. Ashley's lawsuit alleges that he was curled in the fetal position when Miller ordered the dog to bite Ashley's leg until he was "subdued" enough to be handcuffed. 

Photos of the bites and bruises Ashley sustained are present in the lawsuit.

Ashley is requesting compensatory and punitive damages, an admission of the lawsuit's allegations in writing, a verbal and written apology from the defendants in person, and a declaratory judgement. 

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