Police dog mauls Wal-Mart worker

The incident happened about 2 a.m. Thursday when the worker, Mang Dieke, stepped outside to take a coffee break. As he sat on an outside bench near a Fayette County Sheriff’s K-9 officer’s SUV, a door of the vehicle popped open, and a Belgian Malinois leaped out.

The 52-year-old Dieke, of Riverdale, told Channel 2 that the dog immediately attacked him, latching onto his arm.

“The only thing I was thinking was to try to get away,” he said.

Store surveillance video showed Dieke struggling with the animal, dragging him by the collar into the store.

“The dog wouldn’t let go,” he said. “It wouldn’t let go.”

The dog’s handler, who had left the canine locked in a holding pen of the SUV when he went into the Wal-Mart to use a restroom, rushed over to the commotion and restrained the dog. Dieke’s clothes were ripped, and he sustained deep bites to his stomach, chest, arm and groin.

Fayette Sheriff’s deputies were puzzled at the dog’s behavior, saying it had 16 hours of training every month and had never shown aggression in public before.

Sheriff’s Maj. Bryan Woodie told Channel 2, “The dog obviously thought the victim was a threat of some sort. I don’t know why."

Deputies also could not explain why the SUV’s door lock malfunctioned, allowing the door to open. A remote control has two recessed push buttons to guard against accidental openings. But the lock’s manufacturer told the Sheriff’s Office after the incident that the remote was subject to radio frequency interference.

“So it could have been some kid playing with a garage door opener, [or] somebody else in the parking lot unlocking or locking their door,” Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Thambert said. Sheriff’s deputies said they would replace the remotes with a newer model.

The change comes too late for Dieke, who wanted to know after the attack, “Why could they not contain their own dog in the public?”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.