SANTA FE, NM – Police dogs may look cute in uniform, but Santa Fe Police K-9 Ayke is the cause of serious injuries to one of the department’s officers, according to a new lawsuit.
The lawsuit said in April 2022, Officer Damian Vigil was “pressured and intimidated” into a demonstration with the dog, and he was forced to play the “suspect” during the K-9 demonstration.
According to court documents, Vigil was concerned and “offered to go get his riot gear helmet from his vehicle” for head protection, but the K-9 handler, Officer Alejandro Arroyo told Vigil the dog was trained not to bite above the shoulders.
Then, the lawsuit alleges the dog bit Vigil on the arm as a regular part of the demonstration, and when the dog pulled Vigil to the ground. Arroyo tried to call the dog off, but then the dog “viciously attacked Vigil on the left side of his face.”
Vigil was pressured into participating in the demonstration because the day before the incident, his superiors who were at the demonstration as well, were upset at Vigil for his actions at a crime scene, the lawsuit alleges.
It also claims the dog isn’t under the correct “care” for a police K-9, saying Arroyo regularly mingles the police dog with family pets which is not allowed.
Court documents even said Arroyo had an Instagram account for Ayke, which as of Tuesday seems to be deleted.
The lawsuit names the Santa Fe Police Department and the City of Santa Fe for negligence and damages. It also says after the bite to his head, Vigil has had to undergo several surgeries to reconstruct his face.
On Tuesday morning, the Santa Fe Police Department confirmed both Vigil and the K-9 Ayke are still employed at the department.
KOB 4 reached out to the City of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Police Department who both said they didn’t comment on pending litigation. We also reached out to Vigil’s attorney as well and never heard back.