A Louisville police officer let his dog attack a 14-year-old Black child who was not resisting. As the dog 'gnawed' on the child's arm, the officer said 'stop fighting my dog,' DOJ said in bombshell report
The DOJ released a 90-page report on its investigation of the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Among the DOJ's findings, there were two incidents of "unlawful" releases of a police dog.
One officer released a dog on a 14-year-old Black teen who was spotted lying on the ground.
A Louisville Metro Police officer unleashed his police dog on a 14-year-old Black boy who was spotted lying on the ground, leading to severe injuries and hospitalization, according to a report published on Wednesday by the Department of Justice.
The findings are part of the DOJ's broader two-year investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government that was launched after Breonna Taylor was killed during a raid by seven officers in March 2020.
The police dog incident occurred during a search for a home invasion suspect, according to the DOJ, which reviewed a video of the encounter. The date of the incident and the name of the officer were not disclosed.
"The officer was leading his dog to search for a person suspected of a home invasion. After searching for several minutes, the officer saw the teenager lying on the ground, face down in the grass," the Justice Department wrote in its report. "Immediately after noticing the teen, the officer deployed his dog off-leash — without giving any warning — and ordered the dog to bite the teen at least seven times."
During the encounter, the teen remained prone and pleaded, "OK! OkK Help! Get the dog, please!" the report stated, as officers continued to stand over him and shout orders for about 30 seconds "while the dog gnawed on his arm."
"At one point, an officer shouted, 'Stop fighting my dog!' despite video showing the teen lying still with one arm behind his back and the other arm in the dog's mouth," according to the report.
The teen suffered severe injuries on his arm and back and was admitted to a children's hospital.
The Justice Department's larger report concluded that the police department and government agency exhibited a pattern of misconduct, excessive use of force, and discrimination.
"The Department of Justice has reasonable cause to believe that the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government (Louisville Metro) and the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law," the report stated.
The report included another police dog incident during which the DOJ said officers found a white man "lying face up, on his back, in his boxers, with his hands up." The man tried to comply with the officers' orders while the dog continued to bite his foot for nearly a minute.
"In both incidents, officers should not have ordered their dogs to bite the people involved. Both were trying to comply with orders and were not resisting," the DOJ wrote. "Because these bites went on for far longer than was necessary, and given the way that officers spoke to these individuals, we have serious concerns that these uses of force were punitive, reflecting a dangerous lack of self-control by the officers and subjecting these individuals to excruciating uses of force far beyond lawful limits."
A spokesperson for the Louisville Metro Police Department did not address specific questions about the incident involving the 14-year-old boy.
In a statement to Insider, spokesperson Angela Ingram said that the department had "just received the DOJ report" and a thorough review will be conducted by command staff.
"Now that the DOJ has concluded their investigation and presented their findings, we will continue our efforts in improving public safety in Louisville and making LMPD the premier police department in the country," the department said in a news release.
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