Distracted Manatee Co. K-9 bites woman during suspect chase

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A woman is out of the hospital and recovering after a Manatee County sheriff’s K-9 got distracted from the suspect he was chasing and mistakenly bit a chunk out of her arm.

“He grabbed all the muscles on my arm. I’ve got 47 outside stitches and probably 30-something on the inside,” said Elizabeth Hope, who was released from Manatee Memorial Hospital Monday night.

She was not the suspect the K-9 was chasing. Hope said she was sitting outside, playing games with neighbors at a house on 5th Street West in Bradenton Monday when three suspected car thieves, being chased by deputies, ran straight toward her. 

“I heard the sirens and I thought they were going down the street, a pursuit. I saw three of them come across the back of the church,” said Hope.

One of the suspects got caught at the home of Hope's neighbor, Darcy Layman.

“The guy was pinned down by the dog in the driveway. He had hidden on my husband’s van,” Layman said.

Deputies had eyes on the other two suspects as they ran between houses, so a deputy released his K-9 to catch him - but the dog lunged for Hope instead.

“He tried to bite me in my face, but I turned and he grabbed all of this out of my arm,” said Hope. “The sheriff [deputy] tried with all his might to shake him off, but then when he got him, he snatched a whole, all my meat and muscle and skin was in his mouth.”

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Randy Warren said the K-9 initially ran past her.

“She was startled and screaming and started throwing a chair, kind of kicking and screaming. This caused the dog to kind of focus on her, unfortunately, and she got bit,” said Warren. “The sheriff is not happy about how that happened, and certainly we do want to help her out here.”

While the sheriff’s office apologizes and said it was not intentional, Hope said that isn’t enough.

“I want to have this dog put down, and I want to get paid for my pain and suffering because it wasn’t my fault,” she said.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said it will see if the deputy followed the correct protocols. A spokesperson said deputies train with their K-9s, but sometimes the dogs can get distracted.

Meanwhile, two of the three suspects are still on the run.

Hope said she’ll depend on her family to help her heal from her injuries.