Reno, NV – The task of bringing fugitives to justice falls to the capable hands of U.S. Marshals—and the Marshals typically have no problem capturing their target. But when they partnered with Washoe County Sheriff's Deputies in January to apprehend Eugenio Enrique Corona, the fugitive was not returned to jail safe and sound.
Corona had violated the terms and conditions of his parole when he was alleged to have been in possession of methamphetamines and a firearm. Instead of returning to prison, he is believed to have fled, forcing the Marshals to come looking for him.
Washoe deputies caught up with Corona, and a car chase ensued but ended as soon as Corona stopped. He exited the car, got on his knees, and in typical prison submission fashion, interlocked his hands behind his head.
However, instead of simply walking over and placing the wanted man in handcuffs—which would have seemingly been easy considering he was in the position of surrender— Corona's lawyers say Washoe police proceeded to sic their dog on him as punishment.
For surrendering, he was tortured.
In the video from the dash cam of one of the deputy's cars, Corona can be seen kneeling on the ground, hands locked behind his head. The cars roll up and stop, then a dog runs over and attacks Corona, clamping down on his arm and tearing into him.
According to a report from the Reno-Gazette Journal, there were two deputies on the scene—Jason Wood and Francisco Gamboa:
"Wood commanded Rony to 'get that bad guy' as the dog latched on to Corona's arm, biting him on the bicep and chest, the lawsuit said. A second deputy, Deputy Francisco Gamboa, punched Corona in the face while yelling at him to stop resisting, according to the lawsuit."
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Wood's command to "get that bad guy" was followed by the comments officers are trained to say when they want to punch someone: "stop resisting." It is clear to see that Corona was in no way "resisting," even when his arm and chest were being mauled by the attack dog.
This raises the question—were the officers lying when they yelled for Corona to "stop resisting," or were they just attempting to legally protect themselves while they punched him in the face?
Corona's lawyers, Terri Keyser-Cooper and Luke Busby, contend in the lawsuit, "The surrender was unequivocal: (Corona) was on his knees with his hands above his head...No reasonable officer could have construed (Corona's) actions as anything other than a complete surrender."
Although a gun was recovered from the route of the chase, and deputies had radioed in that someone shot at them, the video does not reveal such an interaction. Corona has denied all of the charges against him, and he currently sits in the Washoe County jail. He is suing for excessive use of force.
The question also remains as to how the scene would have unfolded, if Corona had resisted, and attempted to defend himself against the vicious K9 attack. Of course, some viewers would likely contend that he should not have run, and that he deserved the treatment he got.
Others may say this incident serves as just another case of police brutality. But for pragmatic observers, it may appear as something less than humane—some type of cruel indignant punishment for failing to get on one's knees fast enough.
It will be left up to a judge or jury to decide if Corona's rights were violated, and if the deputies used too much force in their attempts to capture an alleged fugitive.
As The Free Thought Project has reported, police sometimes use their K9 officers—or police dogs—as a form of cruel punishment against suspects. On one occasion in May, a police officer in Pennsylvania allowed his attack dog to maul a compliant man and then bragged to a dispatcher about the injuries the suspect sustained.
In the case of Eugenio Enrique Corona, do you believe the officers should have restrained the K9? Did they delay in removing the K9 from the suspect? Would you have released the dog on the suspect if you were the officer and saw a man in a submissive position?