SAN DIEGO --
A woman's life and appearance were forever altered after she said she became the target of a police dog.
"It's been horrifying," Deborah Hooper told 10News via Skype.
Hooper admitted she is no saint. She has a history with methamphetamine, but she said she did not deserve to be attacked by a San Diego County sheriff's deputy's dog.
In May 2006, Hooper was outside of an Encinitas drug store when she was stopped by a security guard and accused of shoplifting.
After sheriff's Deputy Kirk Terrell arrived, a search of her car produced a cosmetic bag from under the driver's seat. According to authorities, the deputy said he found a portable scale, along with two bags that contained what appeared to be meth.
Terrell told Hooper she was being arrested, and Hooper claimed the deputy became aggressive.
"He scared me, and he went to grab my hand. I just jerked away from him," Hooper said.
Both ended up on the ground, but Hooper said the deputy got on top of her and she jerked around a few times.
Hooper said at one point, with the deputy still on top of her, her face was in the pavement and she stopped struggling. Hooper said she heard the deputy call for his German Shepherd named Quba
"The dog was coming at me and all I can see was teeth and slobber. I could hear the crunching on my head. I buried my face in the ground and started praying," said Hooper.
The incident left Hooper, who now lives in New Orleans, with a list of injuries. Her head was scalped, and she said she suffered permanent hair loss.
The sheriff's department argued the action was justified. In court filings, the deputy said, "[I] could feel what I believed to be Hooper's hand on my weapon in an attempt to remove it from the holster."
"Did you go after his gun?" asked 10News reporter Michael Chen.
"I absolutely did not," said Hooper.
Hooper's attorneys said they have witnesses who will dispute the deputy's story.
Not at dispute, however, is Hooper's use of meth earlier that day. Her attorneys pointed out she was calm while being detained for more than an hour, before the deputy grabbed her.
"There was no reason to call that dog. I just don't understand how he could do something like that," said Hooper.
The sheriff's department declined to comment for this story due to pending litigation.
Earlier this year, an appeals court ruled Hooper could file a lawsuit even though she pleaded guilty to several charges related to the incident, including resisting arrest.
A trial is expected by the end of the year.
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