An officer in rural Ohio has been fired after he released a police dog on a Black man who had already raised his hands in surrender, authorities said Wednesday.
In a statement, the Circleville Police Department said Officer Ryan Speakman had his employment “terminated.”
On July 4, Speakman, who is white, deployed the dog he’d been handling on 23-year-old truck driver Jadarrius Rose.
Rose was pulled over by police on U.S. Route 23 for a traffic violation. Speakman had been given express orders from state troopers not to release the dog.
“Officer Speakman did not meet the standards and expectations we hold for our police officers. Officer Speakman has been terminated from the department, effective immediately,” the Circleville Police Department said in the statement.
One day prior to his firing, Speakman was put on paid administrative leave, a common practice during use-of-force investigations.
After the investigation, the department’s Use of Force Review Board determined the canine policy was correctly followed in the apprehension and arrest — but the board said it cannot recommend disciplinary measures for officers.
Speakman and his lawyers have not publicly commented on the incident.
The Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, a union to which Speakman belongs, called for the officer to be reinstated. The union filed a grievance on Speakman’s behalf, claiming he was fired “without just cause and contrary to mandatory principles of progressive discipline.”
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The union wrote that Speakman should be reimbursed lost wages, seniority and benefits.
This week, the Ohio State Highway Patrol released bodycam footage that shows Speakman releasing the dog despite a state trooper repeatedly shouting, “Do not release the dog.”
According to an incident report, Rose was stopped by a motor carrier enforcement inspector with the Ohio State Highway Patrol while driving a semi-tractor trailer. Rose’s vehicle was allegedly “missing a left rear mud flap.”
A lengthy pursuit followed, as Rose refused to stop the vehicle. Eventually, tire-deflating devices were deployed to halt the truck.
Rose was ordered to leave the vehicle but did not immediately exit. According to the incident report, Rose had been on the phone with 911. NBC News reported that Rose told the 911 operator he feared the officers would kill him.
When police ordered Rose to roll down his window, he voiced his concern to 911. “I did that the last time and all of them had their guns pointed at me. You think I feel safe?” Rose said in the call, according to NBC News.
Eventually, Rose exited the truck and was ordered onto the ground. In bodycam footage, Rose can be seen kneeling with his hands in the air. As several police officers and state troopers approach with their guns drawn, Speakman moves closer with the dog.
“Do not release the dog. Do not release the dog with his hands up!” an unidentified state trooper repeats in the bodycam footage.
Speakman releases the dog anyway, and it runs to Rose and bites him repeatedly. The officers scramble to remove the dog while Rose shouts for help. The dog maintains its hold on Rose for over 30 seconds.
Rose was charged with failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer, a fourth-degree felony. The maximum penalty is 18 months in prison.
Rose was treated in hospital for dog bites.
He has since been released on bond. CBS News reported he was jailed for three days.
Outrage over the incident has erupted in Circleville. A protest has already been planned for Saturday outside the Circleville Police Department. Organizers — members from a local group that calls for the Circleville police to be dismantled — are demanding, among other things, for Speakman and the Circleville police chief to be fired, for all charges against Rose to be dropped and for the dog, named Serg, to be retired to a rescue.
Circleville is about 48 kilometres from Columbus, Ohio.