ITHACA, N.Y. — An Ithaca resident is suing the City of Ithaca and a K-9 officer at the Ithaca Police Department, claiming a police dog attacked her and caused serious injury in a parking lot.

A lawsuit filed last week in the Supreme Court of Tompkins County alleges the police dog, Rex, handled by Officer Jamie Buffone did “attack, bite and maul” the woman, Debra S. Brown, of Ithaca. The incident allegedly took place in November 2016 in the parking lot of the Ithaca Shopping Plaza.

Records state that Brown was “lawfully and legally” in the parking lot when Officer Buffone took Rex out of her patrol vehicle to show the dog to Brown. Shortly after, Rex attacked Brown and caused serious injuries, the lawsuit says.

Brown is represented by attorneys, Williamson, Clune & Stevens.

The lawsuit claims the injuries to Brown were caused “solely as the result of the negligent, wanton, reckless, and careless acts” of the defendants, Officer Buffone and the City of Ithaca, for permitting the dog to go to the shopping plaza and come into contact with citizens without being guarded, restrained, muzzled or confined.

Brown is seeking damages for medical expenses that have been incurred and will continue to be incurred.

Rex, a German Shepherd Dog, was sworn in to the Ithaca Police Department about five months before the alleged incident. He is from the Czech Republic and was brought to the Ithaca Police Department in early March.

Buffone and Rex have been through multiple training sessions, including a nine-week training program in Syracuse for tracking and apprehension and another seven-week program for narcotics detection.

Rex is the second dog to join the Ithaca Police Department in recent years.

“Officer Buffone is an exemplary police officer,” Jamie Williamson, public information officer for the Ithaca Police Department said. “She has received many letters of commendation from her supervising officers and is a well respected officer in this department. Per standard protocol we do not comment on pending litigation.”

An attorney for Brown did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Featured image: K-9 Officer Jamie Buffone kneels next to Rex at the swearing-in ceremony in June 2016. File photo.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.