A woman is seeking unspecified damages from the City of Ithaca and an Ithaca police officer in court after she says she was severely injured by a dog in the Ithaca Police Department’s K-9 Unit.
Debra S. Brown of Ithaca filed suit against the city and Officer Jamie Buffone last week over an incident that Brown says occurred on Nov. 16, 2016, in the parking lot of The Ithaca Shopping Plaza between Elmira Road and South Meadow Street.
Brown said Buffone took the dog, Rex, from her vehicle to show to Brown, but that shortly after the dog hopped out of the vehicle, it “did attack, bite and maul” Brown, resulting in severe and serious personal injuries.
Reached by phone on Sunday afternoon, Brown’s attorney, John Stevens, of the Ithaca-based law office of Williamson, Clune and Stevens, said his office is not commenting on the suit. The Ithaca Police spokesman, Officer Jamie Williamson, and Buffone did not respond to emails on Sunday.
In the lawsuit, which was filed in New York State Supreme Court in Tompkins County, Brown says Buffone and the City of Ithaca knew that Rex was “vicious, uncontrollable, and possessed of propensities to forcibly attack third parties, and possessed a ferocious nature and disposition.”
Brown says her injuries were the result of the negligence of the defendants, specifically allowing Rex to walk around the shopping center parking lot “in contact with and among citizens without being guarded, restrained, muzzled and/or confined.”
Buffone told The Ithaca Voice in May of 2016 that Rex was born in Hungary in January of 2015 and is trained to both patrol — such as tracking — and to detect narcotics. Buffone said she joined IPD in 2005.
In January of this year, IPD announced that Rex would be receiving a bullet- and stab-protective vest from a non-profit called Vested Interest in K9s. When Rex received the vest, IPD posted a picture of the canine saying Rex had been busy helping the Ithaca community.
The dog in question, Rex, is a 70-pound German Shepard who was sworn into service on June 15, 2016 in a ceremony at City Hall, joined by Buffone as well as Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 and the police chief at the time, John Barber. In August, police brought Rex and another canine, Bert, to the Greater Ithaca Activities Center summer camp.
Brown is seeking damages from the defendants for the injuries she said she sustained, as well as the cost of the proceedings.