A Missouri police department has had to explain their actions after cell phone footage showed three cops seemingly allowing their police dog to bite a Black man while he was under arrest.
Police claim that the man, who was suspected of breaking into a business, wouldn’t comply, but the bystander’s footage appears to show otherwise.
In the video, two officers can be seen arresting the man while he is leaning over the hood of a car. Another officer stands in front of the car with a barking dog. The man appears to not be resisting arrest, but the K9 is still released on him as the other two cops step away. The dog continues barking as it nips at the ankles of the man, who shouts and grabs his legs. The man can be heard yelling “help,” but the three officers stand by and let the dog continue attacking him. Two officers then push the man on the ground, and the dog starts to pull and yank at his leg. Eventually, the third cop pulls the dog away, only to release him again on the suspect. The dog bites and drags the man to the ground. All the while, the three cops stand by and look on. Finally, the dog is taken away and the man continues to be arrested.
The editorial board at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said that the incident was reminiscent of how Black protesters were treated in 1960s Alabama as they marched for equal rights.
“This incident bears all the hallmarks of cops deciding to issue their personal form of street justice — inflicting pain and punishment on the spot instead of waiting for the courts to do their job,” the board wrote.
Even Michael Gould, a dog expert who specializes in police canine tactics, was disturbed by the incident.
“The fact of the matter is, it’s a human reflex response,” he said. “You can’t have an 80-pound dog puncturing your skin and be compliant. It’s virtually impossible.”
In a press release on their Facebook page, the Woodson Terrace Police Department said they were called on Sept. 20 after reports of a man trespassing at a business in Woodson Terrace. They alleged the man refused to leave, threatened to kill the responding officers, and claimed that he was a sovereign citizen. They say they warned the man—who they thought was on drugs—that if he did not comply, they would use a dog.
“The officers attempted to get the subject to cooperate with them, but the subject continued resisting,” the press release states. “The subject was then warned several times that if he did not comply, the K9 would be released. The subject continued to resist, causing minor injuries to one of the officers, so the K9 was released and the K9 gained control of the suspect’s foot. The suspect went to the ground and the K9 was pulled off the subject.”
According to the police, after the dog was pulled off the man, the man kept trying to resist arrest so the dog was released again and bit him on the leg. He was taken to a hospital due to his injuries.
“After the subject was arrested, the officers found suspected methamphetamine on the subject, which would explain why the officers were unable to restrain the subject. The subject was released pending application of warrants,” the press release concludes.
Despite officers standing by the protocol they used, there have been a slew of angry reactions online.
“This is disgusting,” one person commented under the Woodson Terrace police press release. “First off, the video shows no need of use of a fuqqin [sic] dog to attack this man. Second, the video certainly doesn't show him trying to cause harm to any of your officers. You also show your Achilles heel here; you haven't taken the time to train YOUR officers on how to detain and keep safe a person who is under the influence. The answer is Not a fuqqin [sic] dog.”
“So we all didn’t see what we seen in the video then? This is a straight up lie!!!!” someone else wrote. “There was 3 cops and he was against the hood when he let the dog loose the first time. Then he was on the ground when you let the dog loose again!!! With the cops pinning him down.”
Another person wrote: “An intentional dog attack? WTF! This is why the number of people who hate cops is growing.”
However, some people who viewed the video said it was reassuring.
“So glad that all the officers involved and the police dog were safe during this incident,” one person commented under the police department’s Facebook statement. “The report points out the dangerous circumstances our officers face every day to keep us and our community safe.”