Salt Lake City has suspended the K-9 officer seen in a video ordering his dog to repeatedly bite a black man.


A white Utah police officer was charged with second degree assault after ordering a K9 dog to bite a black man who complied with his hands-up order, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Salt Lake City District Law Firm charged Salt Lake City official Nickolas Pearce of serious assault over the April 23 incident in which he ordered his dog to bite Jeffery Ryans after responding to a domestic dispute .

The footage released by The Salt Lake Tribune last month shows Pearce with a K9 dog approaching Ryans, 36, in his backyard.

“Get on the ground! Get on the ground or you’ll be a little bit,” says Pearce in the video.

Prosecutors said Pearce kicked Ryan’s leg and brought him to his knees. Pearce then ordered the dog to “hit” and the dog bites Ryan’s left leg for about 20 seconds while another officer handcuffs him, the video shows.

“Good boy,” Pearce tells the dog when Ryan yells, “I’m down. Why are you biting me?”

“[Ryans] I did not oppose the arrest, “Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told the Salt Lake City newspaper on Wednesday. “It certainly posed no imminent threat of violence or harm to anyone, and it was certainly not hidden. He was fenced in in an area and was compliant. “

The Salt Lake City Police Department said in a statement Wednesday that it takes the district attorney’s decision and the results of the Civilian Review Board “very seriously”.

“Both will be evaluated and considered when the division completes its internal affairs investigation. If, on internal affairs, it is determined that Officer Pearce has committed a violation of the guidelines, the chief’s office will follow the disciplinary procedure required by state and federal law.” the statement said.

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Ryans told The Tribune last month that he was puzzled by the officers’ orders when one told him to get on the floor while another ordered him to come to him.

“I didn’t run,” he told the newspaper. “I didn’t fight. I just cooperated. We went through this. We saw that. Always cooperate with the police, no matter what.”

Pearce told the Civilian Review Board that he ordered the dog to bite because he believed that Ryans who grabbed the fence with one hand could stand up and fight the officers, the board’s report said.

After the Bodycam footage was released by The Tribune, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced that the Police Department had suspended Pearce and the use of K9 dogs on suspects.

One of Ryans’ attorneys, Dan Garner, told USA TODAY last month that Ryans was “emotionally drained” from the incident. Garner said his client wanted reforms, including the ability to file excessive violence complaints without interacting with police and ending qualified immunity.

Ryans lost his job as a train engineer and had multiple operations after the attack, according to The Tribune.

Garner did not immediately respond to a phone message from USA TODAY on Wednesday asking for comment.

Featuring: Joshua Bote, USA TODAY; The Associated Press


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