South Bend police probe handling of foot chase

SOUTH BEND — The South Bend Police Department is investigating whether officers behaved appropriately during a chase of a car theft suspect Sunday, a department official said.Some police at the scene allege Cpl. Scott Ross mishandled his canine and scuffled with Cpl. Joshua Morgan after Morgan tried to shoot the dog, South Bend police spokesman Capt. Phil Trent confirmed.

"We're investigating what led to a shot (allegedly) being fired by an officer, what was the aftermath, and were all policies and procedures followed correctly," Trent said.According to a police report, Morgan began chasing a teenager driving a stolen Oldsmobile about 3:45 p.m. Sunday.

Morgan chased the vehicle for about 3 miles before the driver crashed the car and began running away at the corner of Camden Street and Western Avenue, the report said. Morgan followed on foot.

Some officers' alleged version of events

The department is investigating what happened next.Trent confirmed some officers at the scene have alleged the following occurred:

As Morgan was chasing the suspect, another officer, Cpl. Scott Ross, released his canine partner to help the chase.For reasons that are not clear, the canine went after Morgan instead and attempted to bite him.

Morgan then fired at the canine, apparently in self-defense, but missed. He continued the pursuit as more officers arrived to help.Officers caught the suspect in the back yard of a house in the 400 block of Liberty Street.

Meanwhile, Ross and Morgan began "swinging at each other" in the backyard after Ross became angry that Morgan shot at his dog.As the dispute between Ross and Morgan continued, the canine began biting officers who were trying to arrest the suspect.

The canine bit Cpl. Dominic Hall on the left leg and then attacked Ptl. Jamil Elwaer on his upper left thigh, pinning him on the ground.Other officers eventually pulled the dog off of Elwaer and separated Morgan and Ross.