Warning: The video and photos in this article contains graphic images which may offend or disturb some viewers.
In August 2015, San Diego Police responded to a call about a man that was screaming and running around naked. Body cam footage from one of the officers captured the events that led to the man’s arrest.
The footage began with police officers asking the man to come to the top of the hill so they can help. He could be heard yelling at the officers as he approached them.
Once he reached the officers, they repeatedly asked him to turn around. He shouted “no” multiple times and then could be seen tumbling forward as a police dog bit his leg.
Video footage showed officers surrounding the screaming man as the dog repeatedly bit his right leg. Bite marks were clearly visibly on his bloody leg.Image Credit: Screenshot/YouTube
While the man was on the ground, officers repeatedly told him to “stop resisting.”
An officer was heard saying:
“Put your hands behind your back and the dog will stop biting you.”
The man told NBC Los Angeles that he was in the hospital for two weeks after the attack, and he has been left with a permanent disability.
Civil rights attorney Donald W. Cook called the use of the dog “barbaric.” He is not representing the victim.
He told NBC:
“It wasn’t necessary to use the dog to begin with and it sure as hell wasn’t necessary or needed or appropriate to let the dog continue to bite.”
Cook also told NBC that this case isn’t an isolated problem:
“It’s not just a San Diego problem. It’s a problem in any department where they’re letting a dog attack and bite non-dangerous suspect.”
Based on what he saw in the video, Cook may label the suspect as “non-dangerous” — but according to a police report, officers on the scene handling the situation in real time thought differently.
In the report, an officer wrote:
Image Credit: Screenshot/YouTube
“The man posed an immediate threat to officers due to the fact he was clinching his fists and walking towards them…he was under the influence of a controlled substance and was very agitated with officers.”
It is SDPD policy to give at least two warnings before allowing a dog to bite, if possible. The K-9 officer said:
“Due to the immediate threat I did not have an opportunity to give K-9 warnings.”
San Diego Police Department spokesman Liuetenent Scott Wahl described the man’s actions as “the agitated and defiant demeanor of a man under the influence of LSD.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday he defended the officers. Whal said:
“While the split second decisions of police officers are easy to second guess when you know the outcome, keep in mind the deployment of our K-9 is intended to prevent the situation from escalating.”
The man said he takes “some responsibility because I was under the influence” but maintained nothing warranted the use of that degree of force.
The San Diego City Council just approved a $385,000 settlement in the case, although the man told NBC that “no amount of money” is worth a life-long disability.