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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Santa Fe Police Department officer is suing his own department after he says his face was disfigured by a police dog during a demonstration. The lawsuit claims the K9 has a history of biting people in the head.

Santa Fe police officer Damian Vigil says his life changed after he participated in a K-9 demonstration back in April 2022. He has filed a suit against the department after he was injured in the demonstration. The lawsuit claims he was hesitant to participate as the bad guy.

The lawsuit says officer Vigil asks if he needed to wear a protective helmet and his superiors told him no. Officer Alejandro Arroyo releases the dog after spotting Vigil. The group watching the demonstration starts laughing about what is initially going on.

Vigil says he was told the dog was trained not to bite above the shoulder or on the head. In the video, you can see how the dog goes from biting Vigil’s arm to biting his face. The lawsuit also claims Ayke, the dog used in the demonstration, had bit someone on the head before during an arrest in 2021. According to Vigil’s attorney Adrian Vega, this incident could have been prevented.

“Damian Vigil is a good, young, ethical officer and now he is scarred for life,” said Vega.

KRQE News 13 asked the Santa Fe Police Department if the K-9 handler Alejandro Arroyo faced any disciplinary action on this incident and if the dog is still part of the department. They said the City of Santa Fe does not comment on pending litigation and the K-9 remains in active status.