A Florida community is up in arms after a Black man lost his eye during a traffic stop and arrest involving a police dog. The man’s father and an ex-department officer said he believes excessive force was used on his son and that in some instances his former colleagues use patrol dogs as alternatives to guns.
At least 100 people gathered on Sunday, July 17, to protest the way the Gainesville Police Department used a member of its K-9 unit during the arrest of Terrell Bradley, according to WCJB.
Protestors wore eye patches with Bradley’s name on it and chanted “stop brutalizing Black people” as they marched from the Santa Fe Blount Center to GPD’s headquarters at 545 NW 8th Ave.
They also shouted in unison, “No justice, no peace” and “Whose streets? Our streets.”
The march was organized by Danielle Chanzes, a local community activist who fights against social injustice. She has also been a primary source providing updates for the community on the case.
She said, “I was horrified because I know it was bad, I heard it was bad, but when I saw how bad it was I was just so shocked, and I knew that we had to let the rest of the community see.”
A U.S. Army veteran and Bradley’s cousin, Ashley Burke said, “I did not serve my country for my cousin to be disrespected.”
“This man will never look the same and will never be the same.”
Belinda Gorman, Terrell Bradley’s aunt, said what happened to her nephew was “sickening.” The aunt continued, “The dog just mauled his face off. My sister is going through so much agony.”
According to police, on Sunday, July 3, Bradley committed a traffic violation around 10:40 p.m. and fled the scene of the Sweetwater Square Apartments at the intersection of Northeast 15th Street and 39th Avenue, after GPD officers tried to pull him over.
The officers said they clearly observed Bradley with contraband and acting in a “suspicious behavior,” such as him reaching down near the floorboard. A police report says Bradley was asked to step out of his car and was patted down before abandoning his vehicle and the scene by fleeing on foot from the detaining cops.
The police then searched the vehicle, The Gainesville Sun reports, and confirmed they found the man’s identification card and a stolen, loaded firearm and ammunition to fit it.
Once his name was run through the system, it was discovered that he had a prior felony conviction, which prompted them to call for backup — including a K-9 unit to search for the suspect that they believed could be dangerous.
Omar Ateyah from the Alligator discovered, “Alachua County court records show Bradley was convicted of robbery in 2010; he was also convicted of drug equipment possession in 2012 and 2015.”
Officers searched for him for an hour and used the dog to track down the 30-year-old before arresting him.
Upon locating him hiding in some bushes, the K-9 attacked him, mauling him in the face and causing him injuries that resulted in Bradley losing his right eye, reports say.
On Saturday, officials from the GPD released a statement saying the force was investigating the incident but maintained the use of the K-9 is standard procedure for the department.
Those who gathered at the rally the next day believe there was nothing standard about the arrest.
Chanae Jackson says she has been working with the family and speaking to witnesses to the violent arrest. Prompted by a shared outrage, she posted the graphic images of the man’s wounds on social media and gave a different narrative.
Jackson contends an officer found Bradley first, not the dogs. The dog, according to GPD, was actually on a leash during the attack, but Jackson claims it not only used his teeth to rip through the man’s hands but latched on to his eye until it pulled it out of its socket, the Gainesville Sun reports.
Jackson also claims Bradley actually cried out for help from the officers but they did not intervene in a timely fashion.
This point is disputed by the GPD, who submitted, “officers observed injury to the driver and EMS was immediately requested and responded. The driver was transported via ambulance to the hospital.”
Originally, Bradley was treated at the UF Health Shands hospital but later airlifted to Tampa General Hospital, upon doctors’ request.
The man’s eye was removed by surgeons when he arrived in Tampa. After the operation and postoperative care, he was placed in Hillsborough County jail on Wednesday, July 13, and is now awaiting transport to the Alachua County Jail.
Court records state he is facing six charges including carrying a concealed weapon and unlicensed firearm; possession of fewer than 20 grams of marijuana; theft of a firearm; resisting an officer with violence; and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
A protest regarding Bradley’s unfortunate circumstance, alleging racial profiling when he was pulled over and excessive force brought out friends and family of the man to demand justice.
His father Victor Bradley, who served in the GPD, said he doesn’t believe K-9 units are used properly by the force and also said when he was on active duty in the 1990s he only saw them used against Black males.
“I have been in situations where I saw they haven’t used K-9 favorably. I think they’re just an extension of a gun on a lease,” the father told local station WCJB. “Unfortunately, some of the officers that they have trained. The dogs — they think the dog’s reward is to be able to get a bite.”
He wants officers to be more accountable for how they incorporate dogs into their arrest procedures and that civilians need to raise their voices with local politicians.
Tevin Bradley, the man’s cousin, told the station, “That officer that was in charge of that K-9 relieved of his duties and the officers that racially profiled him who pulled him over for no reason. I want him to be released of his duties too, nothing more nothing less.”
“I love him so much,” Tevin also said before describing him as more of a “brother” to him giving an update. “I talked to him and he’s happy that people are rallying to raise awareness.”
Burke further believes charges should be dropped because of all that he has suffered in this ordeal.
She said, “He’s lost enough. He lost an entire eye when it wasn’t even necessary. I feel like they punished him in just doing that. You’re gonna mutilate him, take his eye and then turn around and try to punish him with jail time or anything else? That’s not right.”
Police Chief Lonnie Scott said his department is doing an investigation of the incident, a review process that includes photos, body-worn and dash cameras, led by officials in the GPD, said it may take 7 to 10 days for their review to be complete.