After the release of a body-cam footage showing a police dog biting a Black man who was already putting his hands up and kneeling on the ground, the Salt Lake City Police Department has decided to suspend its K9 program, Wednesday.
According to a statement released by the Salt Lake PD, it is currently enlisting the help of experts in conducting a thorough review of the K9 program's procedure and policies. The said review is being done while investigations on the incident that happened on April 24 is still going on.
In a report by NBC News, it stated that the man was seen in the video, Jeffrey Ryan, 36, sustained severe injuries which may require amputation according to his lawyers.
Meanwhile, Nickolas Pearce, the K9 officer who was involved in the encounter has been on administrative leave since the review and investigation on the incident has been started by internal affairs investigators and the city's civilian review.
In a tweet, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, she was very disturbed but what she saw on the video. She also expressed her frustration on how the officer handled the situation, giving her full commitment to make sure the same incident will not happen again.
The officer involved in the incident documented by body cam footage published by the Tribune Tuesday has been suspended from duty, pending an investigation into their use of force. In addition, the use of K9s to engage with suspects has been completely suspended until — SLC Mayor Erin Mendenhall (@slcmayor) August 12, 2020
In an interview with the lawyers of Ryans on Wednesday, they stated that the victim was getting ready for work when the officers arrived in the home of his wife. One of the officers who arrived then asked him how they can get inside the yard. That was when Pearce walked to the other side and told Ryans to get on the ground or get bitten by the dog.
Based on the video, Ryans immediately followed the instructions of the officer, kneeled, and put his hands up. After which, Pearce can be heard saying the words "hit" and "good boy" as the dog bites Ryans who continued to shout in pain.
According to Detective Greg Wilking, spokesperson for the department, during the day of the incident, the police received a report of domestic violence in the home. But he refused to give details of the incident due to the pending lawsuit. However, based on the body-camera footage, the officers who responded to the house can be heard telling the victim that he has violated a protective order, that is why he couldn't be in the house.
On the other hand, Ryans lawyers said that they have no idea who called in the alleged domestic violence report, adding that there were no allegations that any violence happened. They stated that the couple just had a common marital disagreement, then the wife of Ryans went to bed.
Wilking also added that Ryans was arrested that night for charges that were still pending, and was suspected to have violated a protective order.
The lawyers of Ryans also said that he was laid off from his job after the incident due to the injuries that he sustained. Ryans needed multiple surgeries which left him buried in tens of thousands of dollars od debt.
They also said that the officials involved have been given 60 days to respond to the claim of notice, adding that if they were willing to take responsibility and accountability to the damages suffered by Ryans, the lawsuit will cease to exist.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake PD declined requests to interview Pearce.