Thursday, May 08, 2014

Police dog savages man lying on the ground

Video now suppressed;  Dog handler was using only one hand  -- suggesting that he was not serious about pulling the dog off

This is the moment a shirtless suspect was savagely bitten in the neck by a police dog as officers told the man to lie on his stomach during an arrest.

The clip, filmed by a shocked passer-by, shows the man lying on his front in the road with one officer behind him and another in front holding the canine.

Footage of the incident was described as 'awful' by the force's assistant chief constable and is now the subject of a police probe.

In the video the man, who was being arrested on suspicion of assaulting two police officers, is seen attempting to lift himself off the ground as the dog lunges forwards, sinking its teeth into his neck.

The police dog handler is shown trying to pull the animal away but it does not release the man and he is dragged a short way along the road.

The incident happened at around 3am on Monday morning after officers arrested a male following a fight in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset.

A number of onlookers recorded the event on their phones, and in this clip witnesses can be heard in the background shouting and whistling.

The 22-second clip was uploaded to Instagram on Monday and has since sparked outrage amongst members of the public.

It was uploaded by student Kerri Claydon, 18, who described the incident as 'shocking'.

'The man was asked to get on the floor which is what he did,' she said. 'He was then threatened with a Taser although they didn’t Taser him.

'Then the dog went for him. It was quite shocking and the man was bleeding a lot. They managed to get the dog off but it carried on barking at him.

'It didn’t look like the officer had control, he was only holding the lead with one hand and I think a car may have put him off his balance. This is what police dogs are trained to do.

'They then handcuffed him and took him away.'

Miss Claydon said she did not witness the incident which led up to the arrest but Avon and Somerset Police described it as a 'large fight involving a number of people'.

Viewers of the video took to Instagram to criticise the officer involved in the Bank Holiday incident.

One, @lisajanekovacs, said: 'Think its absolutely disgusting the fact that if any member of the publics [sic] dog did this it would be destroyed.

'Yet that young man was already laying on the road flat out...utterly dispicable [sic].'

Avon and Somerset Constabulary has confirmed it is investigating the video but added that it must be remembered this is only a short clip of the arrest.

A police spokesman said a 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assaulting two police officers and causing criminal damage.

He has been released on bail pending further inquiries.

The spokesman said the force would not comment on the breed of dog involved, and would not be saying anything further on the incident. Many of the force's dogs are German Shepherds, although other breeds are also used.

The dog has now been removed from active duty in line with standard procedure.

Louisa Rolfe, the assistant chief constable of Avon and Somerset Police, described the mobile phone footage as 'awful'.

'I have watched the YouTube clip featuring one of our police dogs and I think it's awful,' she said.

'It's only a few seconds long and doesn't show what led up to the arrest, nor the aftermath. A full investigation is taking place to understand exactly what happened.

'The officer was transferred to other duties whilst the investigation takes place and we are referring the matter to the IPCC today. 'It's our policy to be as open and transparent as possible.

'It would be wrong to comment on a live IPCC investigation but I can assure the public of the rigorous standards expected of our dogs and their handlers.

'The events surrounding this particular incident will be closely scrutinised to see what we can learn from it.'

Ms Rolfe said police officers had been called to the Regent Street area of Weston-super-Mare in the early hours of Saturday morning to reports of a large fight involving a number of people, and that during the incident, a man was bitten by a police dog as he was being arrested.

The matter has also been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

'On Wednesday 7 May, the IPCC received a referral from Avon and Somerset Police in connection with video footage of a police dog bite,' said a spokesman from the watchdog.

'The IPCC will now assess the referral to determine the level, if any, of IPCC involvement going forward.'

Original report here




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