Last year, we told you about the 165 Hertz customers who were arrested for stealing cars that they had lawfully rented. The months they spent in prison, and their desperation in getting recompense from the company, could make you shy away from ever renting a car again. But if their stories didn’t, one out of San Ramon, CA might: An Uber driver whose late rental payment caused him to be mauled by a police dog.
Ali Badr, an Oakland resident, lost his car when Uber fares dried up during the Covid-19 pandemic. To keep some form of driving income, he found a car rental service called CarMommy, catering to rideshare drivers. The company rented him a Camry for the last four months of 2020, but by the end of that contract Badr had fallen behind on payments. He claims he spoke with the company, and told them he would pay up.
Instead of waiting for that payment, CarMommy reported the Camry stolen. When an automated license plate scanner saw Badr and the Camry driving to a gas station, six police vehicles swarmed the car. Officers drew their guns, took cover behind their vehicles, and barked orders as Badr, barefoot, exited the vehicle. Less than ten seconds later, a K9 unit was sinking its teeth into his right arm.
The San Fransisco Chronicle spoke with Badr, his attorney, and the San Ramon police department, and obtained both photos of Badr’s injuries and body cam footage of the traffic stop. In the footage, Badr appears to be complying with every command given by police — despite the department’s later recommendation to the District Attorney’s office that he be charged with resisting arrest.
The Marshall Project spent a year investigating use of police dogs in the U.S., and found that K9 units are “frequently used in minor cases,” including traffic stops. The investigation also found that police dog injuries are often serious, and can even be fatal — a harsh contrast to the severity of the crimes for which they’re used.
Because of their potential for danger, the San Ramon police department requires approval from a commander and an audible warning to the suspect before releasing a dog. Badr claims that warning never came, and there certainly isn’t one to be heard in the body cam footage.
Badr has filed suit against both the San Ramon police and the rental car company, but no amount of financial compensation will fix what Badr claims is “extensive and permanent damage” from the dog’s bite. He was never charged with a crime.