City Settles K-9 Lawsuit For $17,500

Posted: October 23, 1986

A Southwest Philadelphia man who was attacked by a police dog four years ago has received $17,500 as a settlement of a lawsuit he had filed against the city.

Misho Singleton Jr., 37, accepted the settlement Tuesday, after attorneys for the city made the offer just before trial was about to begin in a lawsuit he had filed stemming from a Sept. 12, 1982, incident. Singleton said he was the victim of an unprovoked attack by K-9 Officer James Parrott and his dog, Rebel.

The city's offer came after the city solicitor's office had appealed a June 26, 1984, decision by an arbitration panel that had awarded Singleton $10,760 in damages for the incident.

According to Graduate Hospital medical records, Singleton, a veteran of the

Vietnam War who won a Purple Heart for service in Da Nang in August 1967, was bitten in his upper right biceps, his right side, right knee and right foot.

Assistant City Solicitor Lawrence G. Cobb, who represented Parrott and the city, refused to comment when asked why the city appealed the 1984 arbitrator's ruling, and then settled the lawsuit for more money.

Singleton's attorney, Ted Lieverman of Philadelphia, said he had been prepared to present evidence that Parrott and his dog had been involved in several other biting incidents before the encounter between the officer and Singleton.

Singleton had contended that Parrott originally confronted Singleton - whose son Brian Christopher, then 7, was sleeping on his lap when the incident occurred - because he was playing his radio in the subway-surface station at 15th and Market Streets about 3 a.m., in violation of a city ordinance.

During the arbitration hearing, Singleton, a North Philadelphia barber and cosmetologist, testified that the discussion about the radio escalated into a physical confrontation when Parrott grabbed his son's arm and tried to move him away from his father.

"He kept pulling his arm," Singleton testified, "so I stuck my thumb under his hand and pried his hand loose from my son's arm. . . . Next thing I know, he hit me upside my head. So, I still sat there. All of this time I was sitting down on the bench."

Singleton's account was supported by an eyewitness, William Jones, who was waiting for public transportation when the incident occurred. He testified that Parrott was "standing over" Singleton when the officer "pulled out his blackjack and started hitting him."

At that point, Jones testified, Singleton's son managed to move away.

Singleton said that as he attempted to fend off the blows from Parrott's blackjack, the officer "took the chain that he had the dog with and he jerked it so the dog came and grabbed me in the arm once, then let me go and grabbed me in the side."

Parrott contended that Singleton hit him, and he arrested Singleton on charges of aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and possession of an instrument of crime. Singleton was acquitted April 5, 1983, by Municipal Court Judge Louis J. Presenza.

In a 1984 interview, arbitrator Mark A. Hoffman said he found the testimony of Singleton and Jones convincing. "The police officer said the plaintiff took a swing at him," Hoffman said, recalling that both Singleton and Parrott testified that Singleton had been seated during the encounter. "It just didn't seem logical that a seated person would take a swing at him," Hoffman said.

Singleton's case was one of several detailed in a series of articles published by The Inquirer in 1984 dealing with police dog attacks on civilians. The reports resulted in federal, state and local investigations, in the establishment of guidelines for the handling of dogs and the training of K-9 officers and in the reassignment of officers.

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