WEST JORDAN – A West Jordan man who suffered severe injuries when a police K9 bit his face has reached a $125,000 settlement with the city.
A police officer’s body cam caught the moment the K9 bit Martin Lee Hoogveldt’s face, and the footage from March 24, 2013 shows the police dog latching onto the man's face for more than 15 seconds.
Officers say he didn't follow orders to stand up when they entered his home.
“After reviewing this incident, we found that the officers acted appropriately,” said Sgt. Dan Roberts with the West Jordan Police Department.
Hoogveldt’s attorney, Robert Sykes, said the man suffered severe injuries that required plastic surgery and left permanent scars on his face.
“He’s got ongoing problems,” Sykes said. “I mean, part of his face is numb.”
Officers say they had reason to believe Hoogveldt was armed after neighbors called 911 to say Hoogveldt threatened them with a knife.
“We were called there by neighbors who were afraid of Mr. Hoogveldt,” Roberts said. “He had started a number of fires and threatened people with weapons.”
The police department says signing the settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing. They say they have not changed their policies regarding the use of forced entry or K9s.
“Our city attorneys have determined that it is more economical to put this behind us then to draw it out in court,” Roberts said.
Hoogveldt’s attorney says he hopes the settlement reminds officers not to use excessive force or make unreasonable demands of suspects during an arrest.
“Just because he doesn’t answer the door doesn’t give the officers a right to kick his door in and then sick a dog on him,” Sykes said.
The West Jordan City Council already approved the settlement during an executive session and will vote publicly on the agreement in their regular meeting Wednesday night.