An investigation has been launched after an alarming cellphone video showed how three white Missouri officers allowed a police dog to attack a Black man during an arrest that has since gone viral.
The incident took place on Monday, Sept. 20, when law enforcement in the St. Louis suburb of Woodson Terrace responded to a call of an alleged break-in of a local business just south on Interstate 70 on Woodson Road around 7:15 a.m., Fox 2 Now reported.
In the nearly three-minute clip, which was recorded by an eyewitness who declined to be named, the man could be seen with his hands on the hood of an unmarked police car as two unidentified officers restrained him.
The police canine officer soon approaches with his dog barking. The suspect could be heard screaming as the officer held the dog close by.
The initial two officers step away as the canine officer releases the dog and allows it to bite the man’s foot. The attack goes on for about a few more seconds before one of the officers tries to grab the man from behind. However, the dog then pulls the man by his foot away from the first two officers.
An arrest of the man is attempted again as the dog continues to bite the man’s foot. He could be heard screaming in pain. An underwhelming struggle ensues to get the dog off the man ensues
He then tries to flee, but the handler releases the canine and the man is bitten again, this time in the thigh. Meanwhile, witnesses in the background watch in apparent shock. The man drops to the ground and the arresting officers let the dog bite his thigh for a few more seconds before cops finally arrest him.
Police said in a statement said that the man, who has not been identified but is said to be in his 30s, appeared to be under the influence of what they believed to be methamphetamine when he reportedly threatened to kill officers. Authorities say he resisted arrest, injuring a policeman in the process.
In addition, he claimed to be a “sovereign citizen” who wasn’t obligated to comply with laws.
Still, police canine expert Michael Gould told KSDK, he found the clip to be “problematic.” He added, “The fact of the matter is, it’s a human reflex response, you can’t have an 80-pound dog puncturing your skin and be compliant.”
Gould, who has studied handling and management, deployment, and has worked with police canines, service dogs, and private clients for over 30 years said “It’s virtually impossible.”
An ambulance was called to the scene, but the victim refused to receive treatment. However, he was later treated at a local hospital. The unknown man was arrested and has since been released from custody.
Now many are calling for a look into the department that is said to have only 18 members, none of whom are Black on its staff, and how they handled the arrest.
St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell said in a statement that his office is aware of the video and “we will make a thorough review of the incident. It would be premature to comment on the merits or specifics of an ongoing investigation at this time.”