The viral video coming out of Woodson Terrace, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, that shows a Black man being bitten by a police K9 dog several times while under arrest, has sparked outrage on the ground and online.
According to Woodson Terrace Police, officers responded to a trespassing call at 7:18 the morning of Sept. 20, where a Black man reportedly refused to leave a business.
The man then claimed to be a sovereign citizen, threatened to kill the officers and refused to comply with commands, police say. When officers suspected the man appeared to be on drugs, they arrested him.
Cellphone video of the encounter shows that as the man was being handcuffed while bent over on the hood of the police car, one of the adjacent officers unleashed his K-9 which bit the man on the right foot. After being bitten, the man dropped to the ground yelling in pain, then he was bitten again in the leg before officers separated the K-9 from the man who is then picked up by officers and placed in the back of a police car.
Bystanders who recorded most of the arrest were horrified by what they had seen.
Local longtime activist against police violence and brutality Zaki Baruti, was also angered by the incident. “That’s the callous behavior that they have towards us, and if that had not been captured on video, they would have gotten away with it without being exposed,” said Baruti.
Baruti serves as the president general of the Universal African People’s Organization in St. Louis. In the days following the violent arrest involving Woodson Terrace police, he led a protest and called for the officers involved to be fired.
“When they released their K-9 dogs on this person, even though he was in custody, it was reminiscent of the days where these K-9 dogs were released upon our people during the civil rights era as we sought justice throughout America,” said Baruti.
The case is under investigation by the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s office. Atlanta Black Star made several attempts to reach the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney and the Woodson Terrace Police Department for comment, but neither has responded at the time of this report.
Baruti intends to keep the pressure on local officials and police, he also calls for more Black communities to be their own biggest advocates in the fight for justice and fair policing.
“Black people have to stop complaining and get involved in terms of city policies and begin to advocate those changes no matter where you might be in America,” he said.