St. Louis, MO — A call about a man allegedly trespassing ended in a violent attack by a police dog and has led to the investigation of three Woodson Terrace police officers. The department is defending the officers and the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has stepped in.
According to police, they received a call about a man allegedly trespassing and refusing to leave a business on Interstate 70 around 7:15 in the morning. Police claim the man was under the influence of narcotics when they arrived.
One of the workers at the business filmed the incident and it didn't appear that the man was a threat at all. At most, all he did was refuse to be handcuffed, claiming he had done nothing wrong. He never once attacked the officers and was entirely subdued and surrounded by officers.
Police say that when they approached the man, he tried to walk away into the street, which forced them to block traffic and arrest him. The video picks up at this point as the man is being held face-down on the hood of the police cruiser.
As the two officers attempt to place him in handcuffs, a third officer approaches with a snarling dog, ready to attack. The dog appears to frighten the man and he briefly attempts to move away from it. That's when the dog was released.
This was the statement from police:
The officers advised the subject to place his hands behind his back but he refused and when the officers attempted to place the subject’s hands behind his back the subject resisted and refused to comply. The officers attempted to get the subject to cooperate with them but the subject continued resisting. The subject was then warned several times that if he did not comply the K9 would be released. The subject continued to resist, causing minor injuries to one of the officers so the K9 was released and the K9 gained control of the suspect’s foot. The suspect went to the ground and the K9 was pulled off the subject.
After the K9 was pulled off of the suspect, the officers attempted to place the subject into handcuffs but due to the subject being under the influence of drugs, he continued to resist and the officers were unable to restrain the subject. The subject got up and attempted to flee from the officers and the K9 was released again, biting the suspect on his leg.
The officers were able to handcuff the subject and the K9 was pulled off.
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The video tells a different story, however. In the video, the man doesn't appear to be trying to flee, he appears to be trying to get away from a dog that is tearing into his flesh.
You can hear the man screaming for help as the dog tears into him for well over a minute. "Help! Get it off! Get it off!" he screams in agony.
Local NAACP president, John Bowman compared the scene to something out of the Jim Crow era when police would use attack dogs on innocent black people.
“It gives an appearance that takes us back to a time period that we’re trying our best to forget. It was haunting to see a dog being unleashed on a human being in that manner. There were three very healthy, strong police officers present,” he said.
“I’m just hoping that we can at some point get to a place where the minority community does not see so much of this to where the relationships and trust between the community and the police departments … cannot get to a better place,” Bowman said. “The need to subdue the individual making those remarks and being on drugs, absolutely, for the sake of public safety, I understand. I cannot say I understand that type of force with this person. We’ve got to stop seeing these videos where people are aggressively arrested.”
We agree. Unfortunately, however, these videos have become quite common.