BSO settles dog mauling lawsuit for $175,000

"They kept saying, 'Eat boy, eat boy,'" man says

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Miami street artists Humberto Pellegrino and Pedro Claveria were painting graffiti on train cars at 2 a.m. one morning in Pompano Beach when Broward Sheriff's Office deputies moved in. 

Both men said that they were surrounded by deputies, who wrongly suspected theft, and the artists peacefully surrendered.

But according to a federal lawsuit, that didn't stop Deputy Davis Acevedo from siccing his K-9, Dino, on the men while they laid face down on the gravel. 

"They kept saying, 'Eat boy, eat boy,'" Pellegrino said.  

The men told Local 10 News after the lawsuit was filed in 2015 that another deputy, Jerry Wengert, who is also a former TV reality star, lifted Pellegrino's leg to prompt the dog continue mangling him, leaving gruesome wounds behind.

"I just yelled as loud as I could in agony," Pellegrino said. "I thought they were going to kill me." 

The Broward Sheriff's Office has settled that lawsuit, costing taxpayers $175,000, plus hefty legal fees. 

"Every time he would latch on to him, they would yank him," the men's attorney, David Brill, said. 

Brill said he hoped the settlement would prompt BSO to fire Wengert, who has a long history of excessive force complaints, including a pending federal lawsuit in the beating of another man, Kevin Buckler, after Wengert pulled him over for allegedly playing loud music on his radio. 

Wengert was also criminally charged with assaulting a teenaged boy and lying about it in police reports back in 2012, but he was later acquitted of the allegations in court. 

"They just took something from you, you know? I surrendered," Pellegrino said about his incident with the deputies. "They fed me to an animal."

Both men said deputies seemed disappointed when they opened up their duffel bag and saw only spray paint and art supplies. Nevertheless, deputies charged all four of the men with burglary and criminal mischief -- felonies that were later dropped by prosecutors. The men wound up pleading guilty to trespassing, for which they were ordered to pay court costs.

BSO officials had no comment on the settlement. As for Wengert, he remains on the force.

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