COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. — A man is seeking damages from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office after he was attacked by a police K-9 during a traffic stop in October of 2020.
Police have charged the man, Martinezz Bowman, with fleeing law enforcement and resisting arrest, but Bowman argues he wasn’t fleeing at all.
Dashcam video shows that from start to finish, the pursuit lasted just over a minute, with Martinezz signaling his turns and driving at a low rate of speed.
He traveled down a narrow, dark road with virtually no shoulder and came to a stop in his mother’s driveway in front of the only street light in the area.
Once he came to a stop in his mother’s driveway, deputies immediately drew their firearms and began instructing him to put his hands outside the vehicle and step out.
Martinezz continually asked for reassurance he would not be shot.
Once outside his car, deputies instructed him to turn his back to them.
Seconds later, the K-9 was tearing at his right leg.
Martinezz showed us the narrow road he drove down when deputies turned their sirens on.
He said it was his mom’s car he was driving, and he was just trying to get to a well-lit place where it was safe to stop the car.
The images of George Floyd’s murder were in the front of his mind.
“I didn’t know how it was gonna go, which way it was gonna go,” said Martinezz.
When he felt the dog grab his leg, he was in disbelief.
“Initially, I didn’t feel it. I’m just screaming, Get your dog! Get your dog!” said Martinezz.
The pain hit full force once he got to the hospital.
Photos documented the extent of his injuries.
After four surgeries, including skin grafts, he’d racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Now, two years later, the open wounds have scarred over, but the pain persists — so much so that it’s closed the door to some of his dreams and aspirations.
“I was a basketball addict. I wanted to do basketball, but now I can’t. I see I really can’t do basketball. I definitely gotta figure out something else. I wouldn’t mind school, said Martinezz.
Martinezz is now suing the sheriff’s department for damages.
He told us he has no doubts deputies had no valid reason to use that level of force, considering the traffic stop was for his taillights being out.
I can’t take care of those hospital bills,” said Martinezz, adding that he feels he has been mistreated continually by police and that there is no justice in the situation.
Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson said, ultimately, a jury will decide whether officers were wrong, but it will be a tough case to make.
“When someone fails to be compliant, meaning stop immediately, after you’ve instituted your stopping protocol — lights and siren — then there’s a potential problem from the law enforcement officer’s perspective,” said Carson.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office isn’t commenting on the pending litigation, though it has filed a motion to dismiss.
Martinezz has a GoFundMe set up to help pay his legal and medical bills.
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