Earlier this year in Utah, on April 24, as a Black man was being arrested with his hands raised as commanded by a white police officer, the officer ordered his K-9 dog to attack and bite the man. That white police officer has been charged with second-degree felony assault for his actions prosecutors announced earlier this week, according to USA Today.
The Salt Lake City District Attorney’s office has charged Salt Lake City officer Nickolas Pearce with aggravated assault stemming from the April 24 incident in which the police officer was responding to a domestic dispute call when he ordered his dog to bite Jeffery Ryans.
In August, bodycam footage of the video was released of the April incident that shows Ryans in his backyard as Pearce approaches with his dog.
“Get on the ground!” Pearce says. “Get on the ground or you’re gonna get bit.”
Several moments later, Pearce shouts “hit” to the dog and that’s when the dog starts to bite Ryans. The dog does so, several times, as Ryans is screaming out in pain. While this is taking place, Pearce commends the dog by saying, “Good boy.”
Ryans then says, “I’m on the ground. Why are you biting me?”
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.”
A written statement was released by the Salt Lake City Police Department:
“The Salt Lake City Police Department has been informed of the District Attorney’s decision to file criminal charges against Officer Nickolas Pearce stemming from the April 24, 2020 incident involving Officer Pearce, one of the Department’s K9 officers, and Mr. Jeffery Ryans.
“The Department has also received the report from the independent investigation conducted by the City’s Civilian Review Board.
“The Department takes 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. This can take some time, but we will carry this out as expediently as possible to bring a prompt conclusion to this matter.”
Press Release: Statement Regarding Charges Being Filed Against SLCPD K-9 Officer pic.twitter.com/h4iitZxbX0
— SLC Police Dept. (@slcpd) September 16, 2020