Salt Lake City Police release 19 videos of controversial arrests using K-9s
SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City Police on Friday released 19 videos showing arrests of suspects using K-9s. All 19 incidents, which stretch back into 2016, are being reviewed by the department for possible use of force violations.
Some of the suspects in the videos were already lying down.
In a body camera video from last year, a jaywalking suspect who had run away was already being arrested and was lying on the ground when another officer pulled up to the scene. The K-9 riding with that officer is let out of the car and bites the man on the elbow.
During the incident, the officer repeatedly yelled, “Stop resisting.”
“I am,” the man responded.
Other suspects were seen acting calmly, even if they did not obey an officer’s commands right away. However, K-9s were quickly used on them.
In one incident, a domestic violence suspect was calmly sitting at a bus stop with his cellphone in his hands.
Less than a minute after an officer arrived, he was being dragged on the ground with a K-9 biting him.
In another video, a boy suspected of breaking into a business is confronted by police. A K-9 is used on him after he falls off a counter.
“I’m a 14 year old!” he said in his defense.
Some of the suspects officers were chasing were accused of violent crimes and/or were suspected of having weapons. For example, police believed the man who was bitten at the bus stop had a knife on him.
After the videos were released, the Salt Lake City Council issued a statement backing up Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s decision last month to suspend the K-9 program indefinitely.
“City Council members are distressed by officers who appear to order their dogs to bite suspects unnecessarily, causing pain and injury. This should never happen. Our residents should not fear any visit by SLC officers,” the statement read.
The K-9 program came under fire after body camera footage was released earlier this year showing a police dog biting a Black suspect who seemed to be complying with commands.
The supervising officer in that incident has been charged with a felony.
Salt Lake City Police released a statement from Chief Mike Brown after making the videos public.
“In the interest of being open and transparent, we are making public one video for each of the 19 cases that we have identified need further review. We have worked diligently to perform this audit and are taking the initiative to conduct similar audits in all divisions of the police department,” Brown wrote.
Six officers involved in the K-9 incidents are currently on administrative leave.
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