And now she’s suing.
All because St. Paul cop Thaddeus P. Schmidt failed to maintain control of his police dog, a German Shepard, that mauled her arm for more than 30 seconds after grabbing her and knocking her to the ground.
“You’re fine,” one officer can be heard telling the woman as he grabs her hand, pulling her away from the dog.
But that only appears to cause her more pain, since the dog’s bite is locked onto her arm pulling her in the opposite direction.
Another officer shouts commands at the dog to stop, but it doesn’t listen and continues mauling the woman.
“Please help me!” Desiree Collins, 52, pleads with the officers.
The dog ignores at least 10 commands from the officers to release the woman and continues to maul her arm for about 30-seconds as she screams for help.
“What you have here is a completely innocent person taking out their garbage, and a K-9 simply wasn’t controlled,” said one of Collins’ attorneys, Andrew Noel.
"It should have never happened."
Officer Schmidt is the only defendant listed in the lawsuit filed by Collins’ attorneys.
Her attorneys claim he violated her right to be free from excessive force and unreasonable seizure in accordance with the Fourth Amendment.
According to the suit, multiple officers were were responding to a burglary call when when Schmidt and Gabe, a 5-year-old German Shepard, began searching for the suspects without any “definitive information” about the suspects’ whereabouts and without any “visual target.”
Schmidt placed Gabe on a long leash then gave three verbal warnings.
“Announce yourself. Come out now. You will get bit,” Schmidt shouted while standing close to fellow police officers covering him.
“No reasonable officer would have believed that a warning given at this location, sheltered by homes and trees,” the lawsuit says.
“And at this time would have been effective to anyone outside his immediate vicinity, including people more than a block away on the opposite side of the residential area, like Collins.”
Schmidt, along with Gabe, patrolled through backyards, hopped fences and searched through alleys without providing any other verbal warning of the K-9’s presence.
Gabe then led Schmidt for seven minutes as two cover officers tagged behind.
According to the lawsuit, Gabe’s long leash greatly reduced Schmidt’s ability to control the dog, who walked around the dumpster and attacked Collins.
“Oh, there’s a lady,” one of the cover officers calmly says.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said the incident was an accident, but that the department would take responsibility and learn from the incident.
“What happened to Ms. Collins was a terrible accident that should not have occurred,” Axtel said in a written statement Thursday.
“I am sorry it happened and that she was injured. As a department, we wish we could go back and do things differently. Unfortunately, we can’t,” he said.
“What we can do is apologize and take responsibility . . . and learn from the incident so we can continue to work to prevent it from happening to anyone else.”
Collins suffered multiple bite wounds to her right arm and a bite wound to her lower left leg during the attack.
She was treated for her injuries at Regions Hospital and returned later for an outpatient visit to change her dressings.
She was unable because her left hand was amputated during her childhood.
Now, she currently receives ongoing counseling.
“She’s struggling emotionally with this incident,” Noel said, adding his client would not be speaking publicly about the attack.
Officer Schmidt was suspended for a day for not verbally announcing the dog’s presence and for allowing Gabe to walk around a corner where he could not see the dog.
Officer Thaddeus P. Schmidt’s History
In 2016, Schmidt was involved in a similar incident with Gabe who was on a long lead when he bit another innocent person.
After that incident, Schmidt received “supervisory counseling” on leash handling, according to records.
In 2006, Schmidt was suspended for two days after crashing his personal car while off duty. A gun was found in his car at the time.
Officer Schmidt was arrested and later pleaded guilty to drunken driving.
Additionally, he received a written reprimand for drinking alcohol on public property while assigned to the FORCE unit.