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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 13, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Attorneys for a man bitten multiple times by a Salt Lake City Police K-9 — seemingly at the direction of the dog’s handler and after the suspect was subdued — have released body camera footage of the incident.
“The following is being released because police brutality is this matter of public concern, and there is substantial likelihood of harm to the public interest if it is not disclosed,” the statement from White & Garner Trial Lawyers says.
According to the statement, the incident occurred in the early morning hours of April 20, 2020. A call reported that Jeffrey Ryans was in a house despite the fact the resident had a restraining order against him.
Ryans told SLCPD police he owns the house, and that the restraining order was scheduled to be lifted within days. Officers caught up with Ryans in the backyard.
“Salt Lake City Police Officer Nickolas Pearce repeatedly ordered his K-9 dog to bite Mr. Jeffery Ryans while he was compliant and restrained,” the attorneys’ statement says.
“Video of Mr. Ryans encounter with the police shows Mr. Ryans’ conduct during the entire incident. The officer’s body camera footage shows that Mr. Ryans complied with the officer’s orders and was not a threat to the multiple officers who confronted him in the middle of the night.”
The statement says Ryans, 36, Black and a married father of three, was getting ready to go to work as a locomotive engineer at 3:30 a.m. when officers arrived.
“Prior to encounter, the police spoke with Mrs. Ryans, who informed them that no domestic violence had occurred,” the statement says, adding that six officers responded to the call with the German Shepherd.
“One officer standing in front of the house ordered Mr. Ryans to put his hands up, to ‘get on the ground and ‘to kneel’ in his backyard,” the statement says. “Mr. Ryans complied with those orders.
“Officer Pearce rapidly approached Mr. Ryans from behind with his German Shepherd. Officer Pearce ordered his German Shepherd to bite Mr. Ryans repeatedly while he was on his knees with his hands in the air. Mr. Ryans immediately dropped to his belly.
“Officer Pearce ordered his German Shepherd to bite Mr. Ryans even after Ryans was lying on the ground. Officer Pearce continued to order his German Shepherd to bite Mr. Ryans even after Officer Jewkes sat on Mr. Ryans’ back and began handcuffing him.
“None of the other officers’ present reported any misconduct by Officer Pearce. Officer Jewkes wrote in his report of the incident that he turned off his body camera while he discussed the incident with his superior, Sgt. Hadley.”
The statement says Ryans was bitten multiple times by the K-9, resulting in severe injury to his leg.
“He required treatment in the emergency room, and has had several surgeries. His doctors have informed him that his leg may need to be amputated as a result of his injuries,” the attorneys’ statement says.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall on Wednesday tweeted about the incident.