A Colby man is suing a Marathon County Sheriff’s deputy after a police dog bit the man following a traffic stop and a police pursuit. Video captured by police dashboard cameras shows the encounter that left him hospitalized. Klyde J. Gebelein said he didn’t have to let a deputy inspect his vehicle, and he drove away from the deputy who had stopped him. Less than 15 minutes later, after he got out of his vehicle, a police dog bit Gebelein in the head. Gebelein of Colby is suing Marathon County Sheriff’s Deputy Troy Deilerfor that incident on Aug. 6, 2015, according to court documents. Gebelein’s lawsuit says Deiler unconstitutionally unleashed his police dog, Leo, on Gebelein and left the 70-year-old man permanently damaged. His mug shot shows Gebelein in a bandage, with dried blood running down his cheek. Gebelein is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
The dramatic encounter and most of Gebelein’s conversations with the officers were captured by the deputies’ dashboard cameras. Gebelein was charged on August, 7, 2015 with fleeing an officer, resisting an officer and operating commercial motor vehicle without a license. Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Gregory Huber dismissed two of the charges in September 2015. Huber dismissed the other charge in June 2016 after Gebelein fulfilled the terms of an agreement with the court. He was initially stopped by a different Marathon County deputy for a vehicle inspection. Gebelein was driving a truck pulling a large tandem axle fifth wheel trailer hauling a large excavator. Gebelein objected to the stop, saying he was not driving a commercial motor vehicle and did not have to let the deputy inspect his vehicle.
Gebelein appears in the video to be agitated and confrontational with the deputy. Gebelein at one point can be seen aggressively moving towards the deputy. Gebelein told the deputy he had to leave, went back into his vehicle and left the traffic stop. The deputy told Gebelein not to leave. Though Gebelein drove away from the deputy, what followed doesn’t appear on the video to be a high-speed chase. The deputy who originally stopped Gebelein followed after him for about 10 minutes. Other officers, including Deiler, joined in the pursuit, according to court records. Gebelein can be seen in the video stopping the truck on Pine Road, west of Hi Line Avenuein Clark County, exiting the vehicle and approaching the officers. Then, according to Gebelein’s version of events, Deiler released Leo and without warning commanded the dog to attack Gebelein. Leo is seen in the video without a leash. A deputy tells Gebelein to “get on the ground.”
About 10 seconds later, Leo bites Gebelein’s thigh and a deputy seems to wrestle Gebelein on the ground. The deputy then tells him to get his hands behind his back. In the video, there are two officers next to Gebelein when Leo attacks Gebelein’s head. Another officer is close by during the attack. Two other officers come near Gebelein near the end of the encounter and it is not clear who is speaking. All the dashcam videos are positioned toward the back of Gebelein’s truck. None of the squad cars were parked ahead of Gebelein. According to the lawsuit, officers had already immobilized Gebelein when Leo severely bit his head. Deiler had to pull Leo off of Gebelein. The officers aided Gebelein’s injuries at the scene and asked him if he was OK, as can be seen on a video. Jerome Tlusty, Gebelein’s attorney for his criminal case and The incident was reported in the Aug. 19, 2015 edition of the Tribune-Phonograph, a newspaper which serves the Abbotsford, Colby, Dorchester and Curtiss area.
Marathon County Capt. Sean McCarthy said in the article that Leo was used correctly in that situation. Gebelein said in the lawsuit the article embarrassed him. “It’s just an unfortunate situation all around,” said McCarthyin the article. “But if (police dogs) have to be used in that way, they are.” But Gebelein said in court records there was no need for Deiler to use Leo. Gebelein was not a danger to the officers in that situation and had no prior criminal record. Gebelein suffered pain, permanent scarring to his head,medical expenses, and business loss, the lawsuit said. He is asking the court to determine the amount of damage he should be awarded. Deiler contends in court papers he did not act improperly. According to Deiler’s police records, he commanded Gebelein to get on the ground and Gebelein did not comply. Gebelein was told by officers numerous times to get his hands behind his back before Leo bit his head, according to his reports. “The injuries and damages sustained by Plaintiff, if any, were caused in whole or in part by his own acts,” said the defense in court papers.