A Salt Lake City police officer was charged Wednesday with aggravated assault for ordering his dog to attack a Black man who had his hands up.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office filed the charge against Officer Nickolas Pearce following a review of the April 24 incident that was first brought to light after the Salt Lake Tribune published body camera footage of the attack on 36-year-old Jeffery Ryans.
“[Ryans] wasn’t resisting arrest,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in explaining his decision, according to the Tribune.
“He certainly wasn’t posing an imminent threat of violence or harm to anyone and he certainly wasn’t concealed. He was fenced in an area and was being compliant,” said Gill.
The confrontation unfolded when police were called to Ryans’ home after his daughter called 911 to report her father was screaming at, and had hit, her mother, the report said.
Ryans was being arrested that night because his wife had filed a protective order last December against him that barred him from being at the home, the Tribune reported.
He reportedly faces domestic assault charges, but Ryans said his wife told him the order was lifted and that he had been living at the home for weeks before the arrest.
When police arrived, Ryans was in the backyard smoking a cigarette.
Pearce, one of the officers moving in to arrest Ryans, ordered him to “get on the ground or you’re going to get bit,” according to the recording.
As Ryans kneels to the ground with his hands up the officers get closer and the leashed dog, named Turco, begins biting and pulling at his left leg.
“I’m on the ground! Why are you biting me?!” Ryans yells in the clip.
Ryans begins shrieking in pain as the K9 officer in the encounter, Nickolas Pearce, praises the dog with “good boy” several times.
“Why are you guys — ow, what the f–k!? Holy s–t!” Ryans screams. “Why the f–k are you biting me!?”
Pearce had told the city’s Civilian Review Board, who found the officer violated policy during the arrest, that he ordered his dog to bite Ryans because he thought the man was getting into an upright position to fight, the Tribune reported.
But the board found that Ryans did not attempt to stand up or climb the fence, the report said.
All Jeffrey needs to do now is sue Salt Lake City for millions.