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‘Help Me, Help Me … Who Is This’?: Newly Released Police Bodycam Reveals Details Leading to K-9 Wrongfully Attack Legally Blind Man Living Inside a Memphis Church

‘New police bodycam has been released in the case where a Memphis man who is legally blind was attacked in the kitchen where he lived by a dog from the Memphis Police K-9 unit. Footage shows officers did not announce themselves when entering the area where the man was, an issue at the center of a lawsuit this year.

In the newly released footage, the public now sees the details of what happened to Kyle Maxwell on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2021, at the First Congregational Church in Cooper-Young, Tennessee, when six Memphis Police officers allowed a patrol dog to viciously attack him.

The video supports the claims that the man was “oblivious” to what was going on, and was terrified not being able to see or hear that he was in danger before the attack.

The officers were responding to a 911 call made by a church staffer, who reported a break-in at the property. The woman who called said she could see on the security camera, which she has access to from home, that two men were trying to get into the building, according to WREG.

She also told the police the break-in was in the south wing of the church. She said those who had robbed the food pantry were running down Cooper Street on foot, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

When asked if there were anyone on the three-building campus of the church, she told them there was a man staying in an apartment above the sanctuary.

She was mistaken. There were other people on the campus, some living in the church’s hostel, which is in the northern building, separate from the alleged break-in. One of those present during the police search was Maxwell, who was in the kitchen trying to make himself something to eat.

Maxwell, who is blind in one eye and has only 10 percent vision in the other, did not know authorities were investigating a potential burglar — but became aware of their mission after they burst into the kitchen and the patrol dog bit him multiple times on this tailbone and had bloody wounds on his leg that has left him pain for weeks and causing challenges for him to sit, stand, walk and sleep.

Jacob Brown, Maxwell’s attorney, told WREG this week the incident has left his client with severe psychological scars.

In January he sued the city in state court, alleging officers involved that night were negligent when they mistook him for their suspect.

FCC is a large property with three distinct buildings connected by breezeways.

The bodycam video shows officer says, “Come out here. We’re going to release the dog. Come out!”

That is exactly what they do next. The dog is free and is sniffing out a potential suspect.

Minutes after they started their search, they meet the first resident that the staffer told them about and instructed him (for safety purposes) to stay in his room while they continue their search.

As the officers moved throughout the church, entering into different parts, they started to hear footsteps outside of the hostel on the north side of the campus.

Brown said, “By the time they got to the connected building where my client was, a completely different part of the church, there was no way my client would’ve heard that initial announcement.”

The area the cops wanted to go into was locked with a code, requiring them to ask the woman, still on the phone with the 911 dispatch agent, to give them the security key to dial in.

In an interview with the MPD internal affairs about the incident, the staffer said, “I wasn’t sure where they were, and she asked me for a code.”

Once the door was opened and without announcement, the dogs ran in, making their way to the kitchen area and attacking Maxwell.

Blind and unaware, the footage captures the Black man crying out for help, not knowing what was going on, and asking, “Help, help me … Who is this.”

Officers told him to calm down and asked him why he was in the church, he replied that he lived there. However, they did not believe him.

He said, “I was oblivious to everything that was happening,” Maxwell told the station. “I’m sure I was listening to a podcast.”

“I didn’t know what was going on. I just know several men are holding me down and a dog was biting me,” Maxwell said before confessing, “I was terrified. I thought I was going to die.”

Then they said they were taking him outside.

“Of course, being a Black man in the South, I was not willing to go outside,” Maxwell said.

“I thought I was about to be murdered,” he continued. “What would you think if several men broke into your kitchen in the middle of the night, knocked you to the ground, and set a dog on you?”

After cuffing him and dragging him out to the hallway, yet another tenant sees them and intervenes. He informs the officers that the man lives there and that they were making a mistake.

The MPD officers on the scene said they were not given accurate information, saying, “no one was supposed to be inside the building except for one person on the third floor.”

Still, Brown believes the officers were in the wrong place searching for the burglars and should have never encountered his client.

“There was no reasonable basis for them to be in this part of the building in the posture they apparently were.”

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