A Police Department in Arizona is facing scrutiny after an unarmed suspect was mauled by a K9 officer.
The accusations stem following a high-speed pursuit that took place in May of 2020.
The Prescott Valley Police Department says the suspect, Alfredo Saldivar, led them on a high-speed chase. Saldivar refused to pull over after he was observed to be speeding. According to police he pulled a U-turn and drove straight towards the officer's car. Fearing for his life, the officer began to shoot at Salidar. Although at least seven shots were fired, the suspect was only grazed with one bullet. Saldivar then drove his red pickup into another vehicle, injuring an elderly woman inside.
There is no video footage of the incident as it unrolled, however once the suspect is caught, a body camera shows what happens next. It begins with the 28-year-old suspect doing exactly what is asked of him. For more than a minute. He gets on his knees, he spins around, he stands up. As he begins to stand, a man assumed to be the K9 handler can be heard shouting a Dutch phrase and a Belgian Malinois can be seen running straight to the suspect. Saldivar can be heard yelling in pain as the dog mauls him, then yelling "please stop the dog". Even though he was just told to stand, the officers now tell him to "roll on your belly".
Dr. Michael White, an ASU Criminology professor, and police use-of-force expert spoke with ABC15 Arizona about the incident, "the suspect appears to be very compliant. By all accounts, he’s following every single verbal command that is being issued to him," he says. "The suspect, despite the fact that he has been bitten, is still trying to be compliant with his commands."
Prescott Valley Police Department released a press statement saying that though it initially appeared he was complying, Saldivar hesitated. Saldivar’s hesitation and the observations made by police led officers to believe that he was going to flee from law enforcement again, which resulted in a Prescott Valley Police K-9 being deployed.
You can watch the video below and draw your own conclusions as to whether or not this was a case of brutal K9 use of force or not.