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Court orders state to pay W208 mil. to American hit by police stray bullet

Arnold Samberg,  a retired U.S. Air Force tech sergeant, sobs during an interview with The Korea Times in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, March 3, 2023, recalling the day he was shot by a stray bullet fired by a Korean police officer who was attempting to shoot an aggressive dog. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

A local court has ruled that the government pay 208 million won ($153,640) in compensation to Arnold Samberg, a 67-year-old retired United States Forces Korea (USFK) sergeant, who was struck in the face by a stray police bullet as officers were responding to a confrontation with a fierce dog.The Seoul Central District Court delivered the ruling last Thursday, about four years after the incident occurred near Samberg’s residence in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. Samberg filed the civil lawsuit in May 2021, seeking government compensation for physical damage that involved multiple surgeries to reconstruct his jaw, as well as mental trauma.According to the court document, viewed by The Korea Times, Monday, the court determined that the police had exceeded the permissible scope of firearm usage, leading to Samberg’s injury. Consequently, the government has been instructed to compensate Samberg for the damages suffered.On the day of the incident, five police officers were dispatched to address a situation involving a pitbull terrier that had attacked a female pedestrian and her dog, resulting in the death of the woman’s pet. During the response, a male police officer surnamed Han fired a shot at the dog, but the bullet ricocheted off the ground and struck the right side of Samberg’s jaw as he was crossing the street.

Accompanying the police officers were five members of the 119 rescue team at the scene, who were in the process of preparing a tranquilizer gun and a net to capture the canine. The judge noted that despite the dog having been tasered with a stun gun once, it did not display intense aggression at the moment Han decided to use the firearm.”Under such circumstances, the police officers and firefighters could have divided their tasks. Some could have focused on preventing pedestrians from approaching the scene, while others could have restrained the dog with a net, ultimately tranquilizing it,” the verdict read.The court also highlighted the police officer’s failure to adequately caution pedestrians before firing the weapon, in addition to issuing a warning through the siren system installed in the patrol car.In their defense, the police argued that they resorted to the firearm because the stun gun ran out of batteries.The court dismissed the claim, noting that the police officers had only brought a single stun gun to the scene, which indicated a lack of adequate preparation for controlling a fierce canine.”The officers arrived at the scene with only one stun gun, which was discharged within a minute. It is difficult to view that they maintained the necessary operational readiness or were adequately prepared to respond to the reported situation,” the ruling read.Based on these findings, the court ordered the state to compensate Samberg for the surgeries he underwent, additional necessary medical procedures, and the psychological injuries he 스포츠토토존 sustained.

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