Salt Lake City police suspend use of K9s on suspects after graphic video of dog biting Black man

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall (D) announced Wednesday that a police officer has been suspended and officers will stop the use of K9s to engage with suspects after graphic body camera footage showed a dog repeatedly biting a Black man. 

The video of the April 24 incident was first published by the Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday. It shows Jeffrey Ryans, 36, in the backyard of his home smoking a cigarette. Officers approach Ryans, who says, “I’m just going to work.”

An officer tells him to “get on the ground or you’re going to get bit” as the dog barks. Ryans the kneels and puts his hands in the air.

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The officer shouts “hit” and the dog repeatedly bites Ryans as he screams. The officer can be heard telling the K9 “good boy” in the video. 

“Why are you doing this?” Ryans asks. "Why are you biting me?"

Attorneys told the Salt Lake Tribune that Ryans lost his job and underwent multiple surgeries following the attack. He has allegedly suffered nerve and tendon damage and may have to have his leg amputated.

“I am deeply concerned that it took a news outlet publishing this video for it to be brought to the attention of senior police department leadership and myself,” Mendenhall said Wednesday, vowing to “conduct a thorough review of the breakdown in communication to ensure that it does not happen again.”

“I am disturbed by what I saw in that video, frustrated by how the situation was handled, and am committed to working to ensure neither happen again,” she continued.

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Salt Lake City police spokesman Detective Greg Wilking said in a statement that authorities were called to the home due to a report of domestic violence, NBC News reported.

Attorneys for Ryans told the outlet that his wife secured a protective order against him last year, although she believed that the order was lifted before the April incident.

She reportedly did not know that a judge must lift the order.  

The officer who commanded the dog to bite and has been placed on administrative leave has been identified as Nickolas Pearce. 

The department said in a Wednesday statement that it is aware that Ryans intends to file a lawsuit over the incident. It said that no complaint was ever filed with the department’s internal affairs.

“However, when senior leadership became aware of the situation yesterday, they immediately launched an Internal Affairs investigation to determine if the use of force was within policy and why the use of force was not referred to Internal Affairs at the time,” the Wednesday statement said.

The Salt Lake Court District Attorney also plans to review the case.