Utah Officer who ordered dog to bite Black Man Suspended

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[Utah Officer Nickolas Pearce]
Salt Lake Tribune: "The announcement comes a day after The Salt Lake Tribune published bodycam footage of Officer Nickolas Pearce ordering his dog to bite 36-year-old Jeffery Ryans early on April 24."
Photo: Twitter

A Salt Lake City officer who ordered a police dog to attack Jeffery Ryans who was on his knees with his hands in the air has been suspended pending an investigation into whether the use of force was necessary, the mayor announced Wednesday.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall tweeted that the use of police dogs “to engage with suspects” will also be suspended until the city can review its policies and practices.

The announcement comes a day after The Salt Lake Tribune published bodycam footage of Officer Nickolas Pearce ordering his dog to bite 36-year-old Jeffery Ryans early on April 24.

“I am disturbed by what I saw in that video,” Mendenhall said, “frustrated by how the situation was handled, and am committed to working to ensure neither happen again.”

Mendenhall wrote that she was “deeply concerned” that it took The Tribune publishing the video for it to be brought to her attention and to be brought to senior leaders at the police department.

The police department said in a Wednesday statement that the Salt Lake County district attorney’s office is also reviewing the case. District Attorney Sim Gill said they’ll be looking at whether to criminally charge the officer.

“I read the story and saw the video and I had not heard anything about it,” Gill said. “The first thing I did was ask our chief deputy to call the police and ask how come we haven’t looked at this.”

Department officials said Wednesday that “senior leadership” became aware of the situation from The Tribune story — though a reporter sought comment on the case last week and Ryans’ lawyers filed a notice that they were intending to sue on July 20.

The internal affairs investigation, they say, will also look into why the use of force was not referred to investigators back in April.

Read the rest of this Salt Lake Tribune story here: https://www.sltrib.com/news/2020/08/12/salt-lake-city-police/

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