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US Veteran Awarded $184,000 After Being Injured by Police Bullet Meant for Dog in South Korea

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A former US military personnel stationed in Korea, who was wounded by a police live fire while trying to subdue a fierce dog, has won a lawsuit for damages against the South Korean government.

According to Newsis, on the 8th, the 29th Civil Agreement Division of the Seoul Central District Court (Presiding Judge Go Seung-il) ruled on the 4th that the South Korean government must pay about $184,000 in damages to a former US military personnel with American citizenship.

The incident occurred in March 2020 on a street in Pyeongtaek City, Gyeonggi Province. A pit bull terrier, classified as a dangerous dog, attacked a passerby and their pet dog, then entered a nearby house and started biting another dog, causing a disturbance. The responding police fired a Taser gun at the dog.

The pit bull terrier fell but then got up and ran away. The police decided to shoot the pit bull terrier dead after the Taser gun was discharged.

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When the police found the pit bull terrier stopped on the sidewalk, they drew their gun and fired. However, the bullet missed the pit bull terrier and ricocheted off the ground, striking the man, who was on the nearby road sidewalk, in the right jaw area, causing a fracture. He was living in Pyeongtaek after completing his service with the US military in Korea.

He filed a lawsuit against the South Korean government, claiming he should be compensated with $205,968. On the other hand, the government argued that “pedestrian control was carried out using a patrol car” and “it is impossible to predict and prepare for a situation where a fired bullet ricochets off the ground and hits a pedestrian.”

The court acknowledged the state’s liability for compensation but narrowed the scope of compensation slightly.

The court stated, “Since the accident occurred due to the illegal act of a police officer beyond the permissible range of weapon use, the state must compensate the man for the damages incurred.”

The judgment was based on the fact that the use of firearms was not warranted at the time, and the scene control measures to prevent damage from ricocheted bullets, such as avoiding the approach of bystanders, were not fully implemented.

However, the court limited the South Korean government’s compensation scope to 90%, noting that he was also responsible for paying more attention and walking carefully.

Meanwhile, the police officer who fired the gun was also tried for criminal negligence resulting in injury but was acquitted in the first trial last October.

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