SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Police have suspended the use of police dogs in apprehensions in light of an arrest earlier this year in which officers ordered a dog to attack a Black man who was kneeling and had already put his hands in the air, the Salt Lake City Police Department said Wednesday.
Jeffrey Ryans was in his backyard on April 24 when police were called to his home for an alleged domestic dispute, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. They ordered him to get on the ground. Body camera footage shows a police dog latched onto Ryans’ left leg for about 20 seconds even though he was being put in handcuffs.
The department announced Tuesday it was opening an investigation after Ryans went public with his story. On Wednesday, the department said the officer involved had been placed on administrative leave.
As Ryans cried out in pain and asked why the officers were allowing the dog to bite him, a K9 officer can be heard repeatedly praising the animal and saying “good boy,” footage shows. Detective Michael Ruff said Wednesday that the footage was not released by the police department.
“I felt like a chew toy,” Ryans told the Tribune. “I didn’t know why this was happening to me. That’s what was going through my mind. Why?”
Police reportedly were called to Ryans’ home because he was heard arguing with his wife. He was also suspected of violating a protective order she filed against him in December. Ryans said he had been in the home for weeks and his wife had lifted the order, but her request was still pending when the police were called.
Ryans faces a charge of violating that protective order, but no court dates have been set.
Ryans said he decided to share his story as cases involving excessive use of force by police have been attracting more attention this summer.
“People need to know Black lives matter,” Ryans said. “Everybody matters, but you can’t just treat people differently because of their religion or their skin color. I developed myself to get to where I’m at right now. I should have the same respect as others. We don’t get it.”
His attorneys said they are preparing a lawsuit against the police department for unnecessary use of force. They allege the officer caused an avoidable injury that resulted in Ryans suffering nerve and tendon damage and infections that could lead to amputation.
Ryans’ attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Police are investigating whether the officers involved used excessive force. The department said in a statement that no complaint was filed with their internal affairs department following the April arrest, and senior leadership was not aware of the incident until Tuesday. Police said they can not discuss details of the case because of the pending litigation.
Mayor Erin Mendenhall wrote in a tweet Tuesday that she wants Chief Mike Brown to urgently complete the investigation and be as transparent as possible.
The district attorney also is reviewing the case.