Officers were responding ‘to a local business for a subject trespassing and refusing to leave’
Disturbing footage of an incident, which had three white police officers in Missouri allegedly use a police dog to arrest a Black man, has prompted the county prosecutor’s office to announce a probe.
The incident, which reportedly occurred on Monday, sparked outrage online, after which the local police department issued a statement on the same day, seemingly defending its officers’s actions.
The St Louis County prosecutor’s office on Wednesday, however, said they were launching an investigation into the incident.
Three officers were responding “to a local business for a subject trespassing and refusing to leave,” according to Missouri’s City of Woodson Terrace Police Department.
“The caller was fearful the subject was going to remain in the building,” the statement said.
It added that upon the arrival of the police, “the subject left the business and was located by the officers walking towards another business.”
Once the officers “made contact” with the suspect, he “immediately started threatening to kill the officers.” The department also claimed the suspect was “a sovereign citizen.”
The person continued to walk away from the officers “yelling obscenities” despite “several commands to stop”, claimed the statement.
The officers believed the person was under the influence of narcotics and that they had to “block traffic” to keep him from being struck by vehicles, according to the department.
In the video, two white policemen can be seen pressing the Black man against the police vehicle, with a third policeman standing close by, holding a barking dog by a leash.
The officer then releases the dog, who then bites the suspect’s leg till he falls on the ground, howling in pain.
The two officers then can be seen pinning the person to the ground, as the dog continues to nip at the person’s ankle. The third police officer eventually pulls the canine away.
But moments later as the suspect stands up on his leg, the officer can be seen letting go of the dog, that again attacks the man, who screams in pain before falling to the ground again.
The officers keep the man pinned to the ground, while one of the officers – grabbing hold of the dog’s leash in his hands – lets the canine bite the suspect for a while, after which it is pulled away.
While in the video, the man does not appear to be resisting the law enforcement officers, authorities claim otherwise.
“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,” said the statement.
The department alleged that when the officers attempted to get the man to cooperate with them, he continued to resist. “The subject was then warned several times that if he did not comply the K9 would be released,” said the statement.
After the man continued resisting and caused “minor injuries to one of the officers”, the officers released the police dog on him, after which the dog “gained control of the suspect’s foot.”
“The suspect went to the ground and the K9 was pulled off the subject,” said the department, adding that after the dog was pulled off, the suspect who was “under the influence of drugs… 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,” following which the officers were able to handcuff him.
“After the subject was arrested, the officers found suspected methamphetamine on the subject, which would explain why the officers were unable to restrain the subject. The subject was released pending application of warrants,” the statement said.
Without describing the severity of his injuries, the police department said an ambulance was sent to the scene, but the man initially refused medical treatment. He was taken to the hospital later after he complained about the injuries.
St Louis county prosecuting attorney Wesley Bell said in a statement that his office “is aware of this video, and we will make a thorough review of the incident,” declining to comment further.
Additional reporting from the wires