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Dale Bryant loves his dog, King.
“Yeah, he helps me plenty,” Bryant said as King, a german shepherd, sniffed and wagged his tail on a Zoom call this week.
Bryant has both legs amputated. He gets around by laying face down on a modified wheelchair, and pushing the wheels with his arms, which puts him eye-to-eye with King. Bryant lives alone at his house in Taylor, outside of Detroit, just him and King.
“He protects me,” Bryant said. “When I’m outside, he’ll actually pull me into the house … because he’s strong as a bull.”
King wasn’t much more than a puppy in the spring of 2021 when Bryant says one night he got King settled in his crate for the night and went to watch TV. Then he heard a commotion back in the kitchen.
“I hear something moving around, and I’m like, ‘What is that?’” Bryant said.
It was King, and he was tangled in a line that Bryant uses to allow him to go outside. Bryant said the more King struggled, the worse he got tangled. He tried calling his sister for help. But she’s a 20-minute drive away.
“And I didn’t want him to break his leg, and injure himself further. So I said the best thing for me to do is call for some help.” Bryant said. “So I called the police department — 911.”
Bryant’s account of what happened next is laid out in a civil rights complaint filed by the ACLU of Michigan in federal court Thursday. The organization says officers’ actions demonstrate problems with police training and attitudes toward people with disabilities.
The ACLU says the Taylor police officers who arrived started by mocking Bryant before they even got in the door. While King was struggling to get free from the line inside his crate, the ACLU says the young dog defecated, and made a mess. When the officers worked to free the dog, the ACLU’s complaint says they accused Bryant of not taking care of King.