Utah police officer charged with assault for ordering K9 to bite Black man who was kneeling with his hands up, prosecutors say


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  tessylo  •  one month ago  •  4 comments

By:   Jessica Flores, USA TODAY

Utah police officer charged with assault for ordering K9 to bite Black man who was kneeling with his hands up, prosecutors say

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Utah police officer charged with assault for ordering K9 to bite Black man who was kneeling with his hands up, prosecutors say

Jessica Flores, USA TODAY

usa-today_Light.png Thu, September 17, 2020, 6:24 PM EDT

Salt Lake City police release disturbing video of K-9 repeatedly biting a Black man

A white police officer in Utah was charged with second-degree felony assault after ordering a K9 dog to bite a Black man who had complied with his command to raise his hands, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

The Salt Lake City District attorney's office charged Salt Lake City officer Nickolas Pearce with aggravated assault stemming from the April 23 incident in which he ordered his dog to bite Jeffery Ryans after responding to a domestic dispute call.

Video footage   released last month   by The Salt Lake Tribune shows Pearce with a K9 dog approaching Ryans, 36, in his backyard.

"Get on the ground! Get on the ground or you're gonna get bit," Pearce says in the video.

Prosecutors said Pearce kicked Ryans in his leg and forced him onto his knees. Pearce then ordered the dog to "hit" and the dog bites into Ryans' left leg for about 20 seconds while another officer handcuffed him, the video shows.

"Good boy," Pearce tells the dog as Ryan shouts, "I'm on the ground. Why are you biting me?"


Jeffery Ryans points at his ankle as he discusses his encounter with Salt Lake City police at his attorney's office in Salt Lake City last month. A Utah police officer was charged with aggravated assault after ordering his dog to attack Ryans, who had put his hands in the air, prosecutors announced Wednesday. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)More

“[Ryans] wasn’t resisting arrest,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told   the Salt Lake City newspaper   Wednesday. “He certainly wasn’t posing an imminent threat of violence or harm to anyone and he certainly wasn’t concealed. He was fenced in an area and was being compliant.”

The Salt Lake City Police Department said in   a statement Wednesday   that it is taking the district attorney's decision and the Civilian Review Board's findings "very seriously."

"Both will be evaluated and taken into account as the Department is finalizing its Internal Affairs Investigation. If Internal Affairs finds that Officer Pearce committed a policy violation, the Chief's Office will follow the disciplinary process required under state and federal law," the statement says.

'It's nothing but pain':   The latest on the cases of violence against Black people that sparked America's racial reckoning

Ryans   told The Tribune   last month that he was confused by the officers' orders as one told him to get on the ground while another ordered him to come to him.

"I wasn’t running,” he told the newspaper. “I wasn’t fighting. I was just cooperating. We’ve been through this. We’ve seen this. Always cooperate with the police, no matter what."

Pearce told the Civilian Review Board he ordered the dog to bite because he felt that Ryans grasping onto the fence with one hand would allow him to get up and fight the officers, the board's report says.

After the bodycam footage was published by The Tribune, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced the police department had suspended Pearce and the use of K9 dogs on suspects.

One of Ryans' attorneys, Dan Garner, told USA TODAY last month that Ryans was "emotionally drained" from the incident. Garner said his client wanted reforms, including the ability to file excessive force complaints without interacting with police and an end to qualified immunity.

Ryans lost his job as a train engineer and had multiple surgeries after the attack, according to The Tribune.

Garner did not immediately respond to a USA TODAY phone message seeking comment on Wednesday.


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1  seeder  Tessylo    one month ago

Every day it seems there is another instance of a black man being abused by cops for no reason.  

2  Kavika     one month ago

WTF, back to turned dogs lose on black people. Are we back in the 1950s.

Bob Nelson
3  Bob Nelson    one month ago

I'm sure that the dog felt threatened, and was therefore justified...

4  zuksam    one month ago

It's not really the dogs fault, he did what he was trained to do. I think aside from drug sniffing and cadaver dogs most dogs used by police are just used to terrorize people. I feel no safer around a Police Dog than a Crack Dealers Pitbull. Most police dogs are not well trained, they might start out well trained but are ruined by mistraining and misuse. I don't approve of the use of attack dogs by police because they're not necessary and weapons shouldn't have a mind of their own especially when that mind isn't even as smart as a five year old. The worse thing of all is when they let the dog attack and the poor victim tries to fend it off and they charge them with assaulting an officer as if fighting off a wild animal isn't a completely normal reaction.


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