Jeffrey Ryans was smoking a cigarette in his back yard when several Salt Lake City police officers came on to his property and ordered him to get down on the ground.
“Get on the ground or you’re going to get bit,” threatens Salt Lake City police officer Nick Pearce who was handling a police dog, according to a body camera video released this week.
Not having a clue as to why they were there, the 36-year-old man gets down on his knees and places his hands in the air but Pearce orders the dog to attack anyway, repeatedly telling it to “hit.”
“Good boy, good boy, good boy!” Pearce repeatedly says as the dog tears away at Ryans’ legs while he screams in pain.
“Why are you doing this?” Ryans cries out. “Why are you biting me?”
“What the fuck did I do?” Ryans continues to cry as Pearce allows the dog to maul his left leg.
Pearce allows the dog to attack for about 45 seconds even though Ryans was trying to comply with police orders when they invaded his back yard.
The incident took place on April 24 but it is just coming to light now after Ryans’ filed a notice of claim which is the first step in filing a lawsuit.
Ryans said he still suffers from nerve and tendon damage in his left leg and has difficulty walking and doctors may even have to amputate his leg.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune.
He recalled in an interview that he was confused. He didn’t know where to go or what to do: One officer was yelling for him to come to him, while another screamed to get on the ground.
He was worried if he did the wrong thing, he would get shot.
“I wasn’t running,” he recalled. “I wasn’t fighting. I was just cooperating. We’ve been through this. We’ve seen this. Always cooperate with the police, no matter what.”
It’s body camera video that Ryans can’t watch now. It’s too difficult to watch the dog biting, pulling his leg, knowing that injury has led to multiple surgeries, a lost job and has limited his ability to play sports with his kids.
“I felt like a chew toy,” he said. “I didn’t know why this was happening to me. That’s what was going through my mind. Why?”
Pearce was suspended with pay after the video surfaced and placed under investigation but it does not take much investigating after watching the video which clearly shows there was no need to allow the dog to attack Ryans.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall also announced that the use of police dogs by the city’s police department will be suspended to review policies and practices in regards to the use of such dogs. The local district attorney’s office is also looking into the incident as well as internal affairs.
But Ryans’ attorneys said all that should have been done long before they had to file a notice of claim.
“The reality is the police department has had all of these facts for months and months and months,” attorney Gabriel White told the Salt Lake Tribune said. “Their own officers were there. A sergeant knew. They had to transport [Ryans] to the hospital.”
Police say somebody called 911 after hearing Ryans arguing with his wife. Police say they came to arrest Ryans after learning his wife had filed a protective order against him in December 2019. But Ryans said his wife had lifted the order and he had been back home for weeks when police arrived. That night, he was smoking a cigarette before heading to work as a train engineer, a job he has since lost.
Turns out, the request to lift the order was still pending at the time so he was technically in violation of the order and is now facing a charge of violating that order, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.