In 2011, an off-duty police dog escaped from his handler and attacked an 11 year-old boy who was playing football in the neighborhood.
While his handler, Officer Eshleman claims that she is entitled to “official immunity”, because she was performing official duties while caring for the dog, the boy’s family believes that she should be held liable for his injuries because the law requires owners to keep their animals under restraint, especially animals who are known to be vicious.
The Supreme Court will now have to decide if Officer Eshleman was actually following directions on specific acts (known as “ministerial”) or she was making personal decisions (known as “discretionary”). In essence, the question to be answered is “does Eshleman’s status as a police officer keep her from being responsible for what happened?”
Many local residents agree with the boy’s family-that it doesn’t matter if the dog in question is a police dog, the law should apply to everyone. Police officers should still keep their animals under restraint and be held liable when dog bite accidents occur.
The Georgia Supreme Court is expected to make their ruling in about 6 months.