Graphic footage has emerged of cops in Utah entering a man’s home without a warrant and setting a K9 dog on him, despite the fact he was surrendering with his hands in the air.
The video, taken from police body cam, was released as part of a lawsuit filed against the West Jordan Police Department by Lee Hoogveldt, who was viciously attacked by the dog.
WARNING: GRAPHIC FOOTAGE
The officers are seen entering the house and ordering Hoogveldt to raise his hands. He complies, but the cops sick the dog on him anyway, and it goes straight for his face.
In graphic footage that is difficult to watch, the dog chews on Hoogveldt’s face for several seconds as he groans in agony. The animal bites him in the mouth, causing Hoogveldt to bleed profusely.
Quite clearly in shock, Hoogveldt is then wrestled to the ground and yelled at by cops to cooperate. All the while, the dog, named “Pyro”, is allowed to continue biting Hoogveldt in the legs and buttocks.
An officer then drops a chair on to Hoogveldt’s head. It is unclear if this act was intentional or not. The cops then document his injuries by taking photos, before hauling him away.
Police had been called to Hoogveldt’s house because a neighbour reported that there was a fire in his back yard.
“To protect the neighborhood, they had to go in and secure Mr. Hoogveldt,” West Jordan Sgt. Dan Robertstold reporters. “The fire department could not respond to take care of the fires.”
However, in the video the cops are heard saying that the fire was nothing, just some stuff burning in a barrel.
Police say that the use of force was justified because Hoogveldt has a criminal record involving weapons.
Sgt. Roberts said that releasing the dog was justified as Hoogveldt “could have easily been hiding a weapon on him.”
In the footage, one officer is heard saying that he “had to look away” when the dog had Hoogveldt by the face. “When he had him on the mouth, I was like ‘oh my ******’” the cop says to his colleague.
Describing the incident, Hoogveldt said “I didn’t dare to move. I put my hands up and froze. If I would have blinked, I thought I was going to get shot.”
A civil rights case will now be heard in Federal Court.
“There’s a right to be free from unlawful entry, under the Fourth Amendment,” Hoogveldt’s attorney Robert Sykes said. “We have a police officer without a warrant, kicking down a door, and going in someone’s home.”
“At the time and place this force was used, there was no justification at all to sic a police dog on somebody.” the attorney added.