The "Scarred" investigative series began with a single bite
In June 2014, a North Port police K-9 marred a young woman's face.
Danielle Drake was never charged with a crime, but she still carried the burden of expensive medical bills and long-term physical and psychological suffering.
The police department declined to talk about the case or K-9 unit, as they were already being sued by the family of a bitten teenage boy. So Herald-Tribune reporter Michael Scot Davidson started digging.
He analyzed five years worth of documents and found that North Port’s police dogs bit at least 34 people from 2010 through 2014 — more than the combined number of bites reported by the police canine units of neighboring municipalities Sarasota, Bradenton, Palmetto, Venice and Punta Gorda during the same period.
That was the basis for "Scarred," an investigative series that Davidson complete over the course of a year. The research driving the series was featured on an Investigative Reporters and Editors podcast.
Months after publishing in July 2015, Davidson uncovered digital text messages between two K-9 handlers that suggested they premeditated a dog attack on a suicidal, unarmed 18-year-old.
That story went viral and was shared by reporters at the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Buzzfeed.