by: Tom Regan Updated:
FAYETTE COUNTY, Ga. - A Riverdale man is recovering after he was attacked early Thursday morning by a Fayette County Sheriff's Office K-9.
The victim, 52-year-old Mang Dieke, said the dog rushed out of a parked SUV and lunged at him as he was taking a coffee break outside the Fayetteville Walmart store where he works.
"He got right in my face. He got me on the arm, and I had to drag him inside the store to get help," said Dieke.
Dieke showed Channel 2 Action News reporter Tom Regan the bite marks on his arm, stomach and chest inflicted by the K-9, a Belgian Malinois.
The dog was locked inside the patrol unit outside the store while its deputy handler went into the Walmart to use the restroom around 2 a.m. It is unclear why, but the locked passenger door in front of the dog's holding pen popped open.
Security camera video shows Dieke staggering into the store with the dog locked on his left arm. He shook the dog off, but it lunged at him again. Moments later, the deputy saw the commotion and rushed to restrain the dog.
"The dog obviously felt the victim was a threat of some sort. I don't know why," said Fayette County Maj. Bryan Woodie.
The Sheriff's Office is investigating why the bailout door, which can be released by remote in an emergency, sprung open. The remote device that controls the door, and is carried by the handler, has a recessed button that must be pushed directly two times to release the door, a feature designed to prevent accidental openings.
The remote manufacturer told the Sheriff's Office Thursday that the device is subject to frequency interference, which raised the possibility that another car remote accidentally opened the door.
"So it could have been some kid playing with a garage door opener, somebody in the parking lot locking, unlocking their door," said k-2 trainer Lt. Dan Thamert.
The Sheriff's Office said it was not made aware of the frequency interference issue in the remote and intends to replace the system with a newer model.
Woodie said the dog involved in the attack had not shown unprovoked aggression prior to the incident and receives extensive, ongoing training. K-9 instructors speculate the dog may have overreacted when it jumped out of the vehicle and did not see its deputy handler.
"I don’t know if the victim here did anything to cause the dog to focus on him. It's unexplained," said Woodie.
Dieke, who may need surgery for bite marks in his groin area, said he wants answers.
"How could they not control their own dog in public?" said Dieke.