DETROIT (WWJ) – A civil lawsuit has been filed as Detroit police are seeking a felony charge after a pack of pit bulls severely mauled a 50-year-old Detroit man.
Police want a charge of harboring a vicious animal causing serious injury against the owner, who previously had been ticketed for harboring the dogs unlicensed, which is a misdemeanor.
Maria Miller with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office told WWJ Newsradio 950 on Monday that no felony charge had yet been filed, and it was going to take come time to complete a warrant review.
Police initially said they didn’t expect criminal charges, saying it appeared there was no malicious intent on behalf of the dogs’ owner and that it appeared the animals escaped through a side door.
Meanwhile, The Sam Bernstein Law Firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the victim, Steven Constantine, seeking at least $25,000 in damages.
Constantine, who was attacked while helping to feed the dogs on Oct. 2, lost significant portions of his left leg and left arm, according to attorney Mark Bernstein.
“This is, short of death, perhaps the most gruesome injury I have seen in my career,” Bernstein told WWJ. “He’s lost limbs; he may lose more limbs. He’s had probably half a dozen significant surgeries, and he’s scheduled to have perhaps up to 35 more.”
The complaint filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, reads, in part, that Constantine was “in a public place…walking down the 4500 block of Pennsylvania in Detroit, when he was brutally bitten, mauled, attacked, scratched, and otherwise injured by approximately twelve dogs, all owned by the defendants, Derrick Felton and Elizabeth Collins Felton.”
The complaint contends that, without provocation, the dogs “began eating him alive” and stopped only when police began shooting “to stop the horrific attack.”
The complaint alleges, among other things, that the Feltons were negligent, reckless and careless in their failure to properly train, tend, supervise and secure their “dangerous” pets.
Bernstein said no help was given by the Feltons as the dogs attacked.
“This is not a case about pit bulls, it’s a case about people and their reckless conduct, which, in my respects, terrorizes communities.” Bernstein said. “And we have had enough, and many other people have as well; and this case hopefully will send a clear message that this type of conduct is unacceptable.”
Police killed one dog at the scene and rounded up at least 11 others, which were later euthanized.
Speaking to WWJ the day after the attack, Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody said neighbors had complained to police multiple times about his dogs. Woody said Constantine was “completely naked” when police arrived. It later came to light that some clothing, presumably ripped from Constantine’s body, was found near the scene.