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Livingston police defend recent events

Enterprise photo by Shawn Raecke

Mark Demaline, kitchen manager at the Park Place Tavern, shows the bandage and area on his upper thigh where he was bitten by Livingston police canine Bobi early Thursday morning.



The Livingston City Police dog mauled a downtown kitchen manager early Thursday morning when he stopped by his workplace after-hours and left the front entrance unlocked while inside.

Police say the incident was the result of a standard downtown security check.  

Mark Demaline, who cooks at the Park Place Tavern five nights a week, said Friday he was on a routine late-night visit to his workplace just after 2 a.m. Thursday when Bobi, the Livingston’s Police K9, attacked him and brought him to the floor.

After finishing his shift at the Tavern, he typically goes next door to the Livingston Bar and Grille to have a drink, and then returns to the Tavern to pick up his laptop computer before going home, Demaline said.

Usually he’s in and out, and doesn’t lock the front door behind him when he picks up the laptop, he said.

On this occasion, he decided to go back to the kitchen to prepare himself a salad to take home for a late meal, he said, so he was in the restaurant a little bit longer than usual.

Just as he was preparing to leave, about 2:30 a.m., with salad and drink in hand, and reaching for his laptop, a black dog approached him from the front of the building, he said.

“Hey puppy,” he remembers saying, because he loves dogs and is usually happy to see them. At first he thought the dog might belong to a homeless person who wandered in. 

Just then the dog, Bobi, lunged for his left thigh, so he dropped everything and grabbed the dog’s collar to hold him back. Then Bobi started going for his wrists, he recounted.

Before he knew it  Bobi had sunk his teeth in his right thigh and taken him to the ground, he said.

At some point during the attack, Demaline said he started screaming and that’s when he saw two Livingston Police Officers enter and heard them yelling.

“It’s hard to put your hands in the air when a dog is chewing on your leg,” Demaline said.

One officer pulled the dog off him while the other officer tried to bring him to a standing position, Demaline said.

But it wasn’t easy to get up — he felt incapacitated and in shock, he said.

Demaline remembers an officer had to drag him to the top of the stairs to get his legs underneath him before cuffing him and taking him outside for an interrogation. 

An ambulance arrived shortly after, and officers uncuffed him after authorities were able to contact Park Place Tavern owner Glenn Godward and confirm that he was allowed to be in the business at that time, Demaline said.

After further interrogation, he said he was brought to the hospital where he received three stitches — not because the wound was small, but rather because it was so deep that it had to be left open to drain.

While the nurse was applying a disinfectant to the open gash, liquid was flowing in one side of his leg and out the other, he said. 

Bobi’s teeth had passed all the way through his skin when he grabbed, ripped and then grabbed again, Demaline said. 

“It’s just way out of line — the excessive force of this dog,” he said.

Demaline said he also has neck injuries and a laceration on his back from when he fell.

Officers reported that they entered the building because they discovered the door was unlocked, and they announced their presence at the door without receiving a response from inside before they released Bobi into the building, said Livingston Chief of Police Darren Raney Friday morning.

“It’s acceptable for the dog to confront anybody in the business at that hour,” Raney said.

“When the dog finds somebody in the building, he’s going to secure him, and that’s what happened,” he added. “He did what he was supposed to do.”

Demaline said he didn’t hear the officers enter the building because he was in the kitchen at the time, which is a half a block away from the North Main Street entrance.

Godward, who tends bar at the Tavern in addition to owning the restaurant, said Thursday he was disturbed by what happened that morning and would have preferred if the officers had called him when they discovered the unlocked door.

The way that building is set up, there are several places where someone could be and not hear yelling at the entrance, Godward said.

“What if I was down there doing bookwork?” he said.

Since being attacked, Demaline can hobble, but he doesn’t have enough mobility to work in the kitchen, so he has had to take at least a week off. 

In addition to losing pay, he now has hospital and pharmaceutical bills, and his injury makes it much more difficult to help his family take care of his 100-year-old grandmother, he said.

Since the incident, nobody from the police department has apologized to him, Demaline said. 

But, riding in a patrol car to the hospital, one of the officers told him he at least could thank her for saving him the ambulance fare, he said.


Rose Brown may be reached at rbrown@livent.net.