A Gainesville man was put in the hospital after losing his right eye during a routine traffic stop gone awry.
Now family members and local activists want answers from the police who waited a week before publicly addressing the incident.
Last week, Gainesville police pulled over Terrell Bradley, a 30-year-old local, who they say committed a traffic violation and fled from police before being tracked down and arrested. The department hadn't openly addressed the arrest until pictures began circulating on social media showing the extent of Bradley's injuries that landed him in the hospital, which include him losing an eye from a K-9 attack.
Gainesville police announced late Saturday night that the incident was under investigation and maintains the use of a K-9 was standard procedure. About 100 protesters who took the streets Sunday, however, argued it was excessive force and police brutality.
The traffic stop
Last Sunday around 10:40 p.m., a Gainesville police officer attempted to pull over a vehicle leaving the Sweetwater Square Apartments at the intersection of Northeast 15th Street and 39th Avenue.
GPD says an officer observed contraband in plain sight and "suspicious behavior," including the driver placing his hand on near the floorboard.
The officer asked Bradley to step out of the vehicle and patted him down, according to a news release. GPD officials said Bradley then took off on foot, bringing in backup units.
Police found a stolen, loaded firearm and ammunition in the vehicle and Bradley's ID.
Due to Bradley having a prior felony conviction and the situation involving a firearm, GPD said it called on a K-9 unit to seek out the suspect, a search that took nearly an hour.
Bradley was eventually found hiding behind some bushes. GPD reports that the dog "apprehended" him and he was placed under arrest.
But according to local activist Chanae Jackson, who has been in direct contact with Bradley's family members and witnesses, the arrest was anything but standard procedure.
Jackson, who shared graphic images on social media of Bradley's wounds, says he was found by a police officer first, not a K-9. The dog, which GPD says was on a leash, attacked Bradley, tearing up his hands and latching onto his eye, pulling it out of the socket.
He bled profusely while yelling for police for help, said Jackson, who adds that police did not act in a timely manner to aid him.
Though GPD does not detail the attack in its release of the incident, the department says "officers observed injury to the driver and EMS was immediately requested and responded. The driver was transported via ambulance to the hospital."
After being treated and cared for at UF Health Shands hospital, doctors felt it best to airlift Bradley to Tampa General Hospital. Jackson said there was a near two-hour debate among GPD and hospital staff on how to go about his release to another jurisdiction.
She said GPD "un-arrested" Bradley before his transport so that the department would alleviate any responsibility for additional medical bills. Once in Tampa, surgeons removed Bradley's right eye.
He is now being held in Hillsborough County awaiting transport to the Alachua County Jail.
The charges and community reaction
GPD later issued an arrest warrant for Bradley while he was in Tampa. He now faces six charges, according to court records.
Those charges include carrying a concealed weapon and unlicensed firearm; possession of fewer than 20 grams of marijuana; theft of a firearm; resisting an officer with violence; and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
Jackson says Bradley ran from the police because he was scared and the police officer became physical. She said the crime doesn't fit the punishment.
"The family is extremely distraught and upset," she said.
About 100 people attended a rally to "stop brutalizing Black people" Sunday in honor of Bradley. Protesters marched from the Santa Fe Blount Center to GPD's headquarters at 545 NW 8th Ave.
Ashley Burke, a cousin of Bradley and U.S. Army veteran, said everyone deserves to be treated humanely.
"I did not serve my country for my cousin to be disrespected," she said. "This man will never look the same and will never be the same."
Tevin Bradley, also cousin of the victim, said that Bradley remains in good spirits despite his injuries.
"I love him so much," Tevin Bradley said. "He's more like a brother to me. I talked to him and he's happy that people are rallying to raise awareness."
As per GPD policy, an investigation is conducted whenever a person is apprehended by a K-9, a review process that includes photos, body-worn and dash cameras.
Police Chief Lonnie Scott said the review will be complete within the week.
"We recognize some of our neighbors may feel disturbed by the images circulating on social media," a GPD news release said. "Rest assured, GPD will be transparent during the review process and we will provide our neighbors with an accurate accounting of this incident. We ask for your patience as the internal review and related processes occur."
Gainesville Guardian reporter Voleer Thomas also contributed to this article.
This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Gainesville man loses eye after police K-9 attack, arrest