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SLCPD releases videos of K-9 bites under DA investigation

Posted at 9:00 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 23:18:00-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Six Salt Lake City Police officers are on paid leave after an investigation into questionable actions involving K-9s. Body camera footage was publicly released Friday from 19 cases currently under review by the Salt Lake District Attorney’s office.

The videos are more than three hours total in length, showing how dogs were used in making arrests since 2016.

On June 5, 2020, one video shows an officer sending a K-9 into a Burger King at 575 E. 400 South to help arrest a burglary suspect.

A 14-year-old boy is shown on the counter with his hands up. The dog appears confused, apparently unable to see the boy.

Video shows the officer pulling the boy off the counter to the ground then commanding dog to bite. The boy is heard pleading to the officer to pull the dog off.

That is one of 19 concerning videos flagged by the department to be reviewed by District Attorney Sim Gill for possible officer misconduct after an internal audit of 34 situations.

“In the interest of being open and transparent, we are making public one video for each of the 19 cases that we have identified need further review,” said SLCPD Chief Mike Brown in a press release. “We have worked diligently to perform this audit and are taking the initiative to conduct similar audits in all divisions of the police department.”

Included is video of Jeffery Ryans’ arrest in April 2020, who was on his knees with his hands in the air when an officer ordered a K-9 to bite. That officer has been charged with a felony for “unlawful force.”

“If there is a violation of the law, then we will file the appropriate charges. If there is a lawful use of it, then we will not,” Gill told FOX 13 News.

Several videos show dogs ordered to bite while the victim appears to not show a threat to officers, including a man hiding behind a hot tub with his hands up in 2019 and a man sitting at a bus stop in 2016.

In January 2019, officers ordered two dogs to bite a man while he was handcuffed on North Temple.

Gill accuses Salt Lake City Police of failing to hold officers accountable when K-9s caused injuries. In 10 years, he says not a single case has been brought to his office by police for possible prosecution. He’s requested similar videos from seven other agencies in the county that use K-9s.

“We have institutional responsibilities for the checks and balances so we can hold each other accountable and make sure there is not a misuse of the privilege,” Gill said.

SLCPD's K-9 program was suspended in August after bodycam video of the K-9 attacking Ryan surfaced, and it remains in place.