Pompano Beach, FL -- Street artists Humberto Pellegrino and Pedro Claveria were attacked by police while surrendering after being caught spray painting train cars. According to the artists, they surrendered immediately and never resisted or attempted to run away. Despite the lack of resistance, one of the officers, Detective Davis Acevedo pointed his gun at them and "fed" one of the men to his K-9 unit, Dino.
"There was a dog and I saw an assault rifle and I was like, 'Oh wow, I think those are the cops,'" Pellegrino told local 10 news. "We complied, we never tried to run, we never ran an inch from where we were at," he said.
The officer's lies just cost the taxpayers of Broward County $175,000 as result of a lawsuit filed on behalf of Pellegrino.
"Every time he would latch on to him, they would yank him," the men's attorney, David Brill, said.
As Local 10 reports, Brill said he hoped the settlement would prompt BSO to fire Wengert, who has a long history of excessive force complaints, including a pending federal lawsuit in the beating of another man, Kevin Buckler after Wengert pulled him over for allegedly playing loud music on his radio.
"They just took something from you, you know? I surrendered," Pellegrino said about his incident with the deputies. "They fed me to an animal."
According to Local 10, both men said deputies seemed disappointed when they opened up their duffel bag and saw only spray paint and art supplies. Nevertheless, deputies charged all four of the men with burglary and criminal mischief -- felonies that were later dropped by prosecutors. The men wound up pleading guilty to trespassing, for which they were ordered to pay court costs.
"It's a bold lie, I came out and the first thing I said was, 'Here are my hands, I'm sorry, I give up,'" Claveria said.
"They kept saying, 'Eat boy, eat boy,'" Pellegrino said.
It seems that Acevedo was looking for a fight that evening, so instead of making a simple arrest or writing a citation, he became aggressive with the men, and sicced his dog on them, telling it to "eat."
"It was him ripping into me and gnawing, I've never had an animal attack me that way and it felt like it was never going to stop," Claveria said.
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The dog left a deep gash in Claveria's arm, which looked like a knife wound that someone would receive during battle.
The other officer on the scene, Deputy Gerald "Gerry" Wengert, participated in the attack and allegedly instigated the whole thing. Not surprisingly, Wengert was accused of ordering his dog to attack a suspect in 2013 but was later acquitted of the charge.
Pellegrino watched in horror as his friend was attacked by the dog.
"I was in horror, we weren't resisting and we weren't doing anything so I was in shock that they would sic the dog on my friend," he said.
"One said, 'I think he's ready to eat again,' and someone said, 'Oh, I think he's still hungry," Pellegrino told reporters.
He then explained that both officers actually held his body so the dog could get a better bite.
"Wengert lifted my leg in front of the dog's mouth so the dog attached to my leg. Acevedo was behind me with the dog and Wengert was to my left with the assault rifle pointing at me ... I just grabbed onto the gravel and started screaming," he explained.
"He got a really good grip on my leg, right under the knee, and I felt my leg tearing and they kept saying, 'Eat boy, eat boy, every time he would latch onto me, they would yank him, so not only was I being bit, but I was being torn. So I just yelled as loud as I could in agony. I thought they were going to kill me, either sit here and let this dog eat you or do something stupid and get shot in the head," he said.
"They were taking pictures with their cellphones inviting all the K-9 cops to come in there and take a look. Taking pictures, people that weren't even involved in our case ... and giggled and chuckled," Clavaria said.
The men allege that Wengert was the officer that instigated the attack. Wengert once starred in the reality TV show on TLC called "Broward K-9."
"I was terrified by this guy," Claveria said. "I could see the look in his eye, he just looked like he was an animal just stalking, preying."