Deputies file civil suit against assault suspect

"In more ways than one, it doesn't pay to mess with the law.Two Kitsap County Sheriff's deputies recently filed a civil suit against a suspected narcotics dealer who, the deputies say, assaulted them while they were attempting to serve a search warrant. Deputies Chad Birkenfeld and Ron Zude filed the suit against William C. Dodge of Bremerton.Their complaint alleges that Birkenfeld's back, thighs and legs were injured, and Zude suffered a broken finger and sore back during a struggle to subdue Dodge with two other deputies. The deputies' attorney, Michael Morgan of Silverdale, said words were exchanged after the deputies knocked on Dodge's door on Campus Lane near Illahee, then the incident escalated and he needed to be restrained.Dodge, who Morgan said is 6 feet tall and weighs about 270 pounds, later was convicted of third-degree assault. He also spent time in jail and was sentenced to community service for the incident.They had to continue work, they couldn't stop, said Morgan of the deputies' injuries. Their complaint alleges that although medical attention and supportive remedies to the deputies was not extensive, said injuries, together with pain, discomfort and limitation of movement continued for a significant period of time after the assault.Dodge's wife, Sheri, declined to comment, and referred questions to their attorney, Sandy Bobrick of Tacoma.Morgan said no court date has been set yet for the case.Morgan said the deputies came to him to find out if they had any available remedy in civil court for their injuries.And that's the difference, we're proceeding in civil court, not criminal, he said. That's an action anyone can take. They were injured wrongfully by the defendant.Just because they're police officers it's not part of their job description to be injured, day in and day out, by assailants, he added. We're hope we'll be able to send a message, it's not OK to do that.The case might also set a precedent. Morgan said he wasn't aware of any prior lawsuits with law officers suing criminals. But under tort law people have the right to sue in civil court for injuries sustained.Dan Cooper, chief of police in Sedro Woolley and president of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, also didn't know of other incidents of law officers suing perpetrators.But it sounds good in theory, he added. "

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