West Jordan, UT -- Graphic bodycam footage of a Utah resident being mauled by a K-9 during a police invasion of his home was released at a press conference Thursday, leaving reporters in horror and a mother in tears. Martin Lee Hoogveldt, 33, was sitting on his couch with his hands in the air when police unleashed the dog, allowing him to viciously attack the terrified man's face.
The body cam footage belonged to that of West Jordan Police Officer Ian Adams, one of at least four officers involved in the attack.
The incident occurred March 24th of 2013 when police responded to an arson call when Hoogveldt was reportedly burning a Christmas tree in a metal can in his backyard. After pulling the K-9, ironically named "Pyro" out of the vehicle, you can hear Adams seek confirmation it's an arson call as the officers approach the residence.
Upon reaching the front porch, Adams can be heard saying "I can see him, so he's gonna bout to get kicked." The officers then yell, guns drawn, for Hoogvelt to come to the door, giving him 20 seconds before kicking in the door and sending in the K-9, commanding, "Go get him."As Adams's enters the living room with the dog, Hoogveldt is sitting on his couch with his arms folded behind his head. Adams commands him to raise his hands above his head, which he does.
Seconds later, the K-9 is unleashed onto Hoogveldt, latching onto his face, dragging him to the ground and chewing on his chin. The K-9 let go of his face after being pulled off by the invaders so they could flip him onto his stomach to restrain the injured man. The K-9 then attacked Hoogveldt's buttocks when police tased him, claiming he was resisting arrest, according to authorities.
He was being viciously chewed apart by an animal trained to kill. That may cause someone to move around just a bit.
To make matters worse, the officers knocked a chair onto Hoogveldt's face while examining his wounds, splitting open his forehead. Hoogveldt seemed barely conscious at that point, mumbling through his mangled mouth, "That hurt a lot," while the officers took pictures of his injuries.
As the officers were walking to their vehicles, Adams can be heard saying "I had to look away, when he had him...on his mouth. I was like 'oh my f**k'"
He looked away while his K-9 was attacking a man sitting on his couch, in his living room, with his hands above his head.
Later, at the emergency room, Adams lectures Hoogveldt, saying he wasn't being a man, strangely suggesting they could be friends, and then joking that he should "get hazard pay."
Two years later, Hoogveldt is still traumatized by the event, saying,
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"It's hard to watch. This ruined my whole life....I've always been very cordial and very respectful to any officer. I was just in shock the whole time. I did nothing but try to make it easy for them. I thought I would not be a threat sitting down."
He has undergone about $60,000 worth of reconstructive surgery since the incident.
According to the police narrative, Hoogvelt had set his neighbor's trashcan on fire and had earlier been waving a knife. Hoogveldt's lawyer, Bob Sykes, points out that does not justify the actions police took.
"You can only use the amount of force necessary at the time it's necessary. His prior encounters don't count. He could have had all kinds of problems. That doesn't justify the police kicking his door in two months later. That's not the way the law works. The force has to be appropriate when it's used. You don't count up prior encounters," he said. "The fact that he had prior police encounters, we believe, is irrelevant to all of that."
He goes on,
"This particular violation of rights is one of the most egregious I've seen in my career. Turning a dog loose on somebody who has his hands up," said Sykes, adding that his client had his hands up for four or five seconds before officers allowed "that dog (to) chew on somebody's face."
Sykes has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Adams and the West Jordan Police Department, accusing the officers of using excessive force on him, illegally searching his home and unlawfully entering without just cause. Sykes is determined to get justice for Martin Lee Hoogveldt, stating, "I believe in constitutional rights. You have to have attorneys willing to take these cases. This is not crying wolf. This is a very, very legitimate cause of action."
Police officers siccing their K-9 units on non-threatening and non-resisting individuals is a disturbing trend within law enforcement.
Just this week, on Thursday, the Free Thought Project obtained subpoenaed video from a federal investigation which showed a Louisiana deputy using his K-9 to attack a non-violent man.
Earlier this month, another disturbing video was captured via cell phone that showed Philip White, laying unconscious as police allowed their K-9 to maul him to death.