Daily Beast: A Salt Lake City police officer is facing an aggravated assault charge after siccing a police dog on a kneeling Black man, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. Train engineer Jeffrey Ryans was smoking a cigarette in his backyard before work when officers confronted him to address domestic abuse allegations filed by Ryans’ wife.
NEW: A Salt Lake City police officer has been charged with a felony for ordering his K9 dog to attack a Black man who was complying.
Officer Nickolas Pearce could face up to 15 years in prison, if convicted. https://t.co/dVKeyt98SX
— Jessica Miller (@jm_miller) September 16, 2020
Breaking: @slcpd officer charged with felony aggravated assault, after he ordered K9 to attack Black man kneeling on the ground back in April. Here is a piece of the probable cause statement, filed by @SimGillDA. pic.twitter.com/mgdVyXHO9b
— Lauren Steinbrecher (@LaurenSnews) September 16, 2020
A protective order forbade him from entering the home. Police officer Nickolas Pearce, an officer with 14 years experience, ordered the 36-year-old to the ground, threatening to use his police dog to attack Ryans. Body camera footage shows Ryans complying as he kneels and puts his hands in the air.
Nonetheless, Pearce instructed the canine to “hit,” and the dog bit Ryans’ leg and latched on. Pearce reportedly praised the dog as Ryans screamed. “I wasn’t running. I wasn’t fighting. I was just cooperating,” Ryans told the Tribune. “We’ve been through this. We’ve seen this. Always cooperate with the police, no matter what.” Salt Lake City’s Civilian Review Board found Pearce’s actions to be in violation of its use of force policy, and the officer has been suspended since August 12. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
A statement from SLCPD reads, “The department takes the district attorney’s decision and the Civilian Review Board’s findings very seriously. This can take some time, but we will carry this out as expediently as possible to bring a prompt conclusion to this matter.”