Disturbing bodycam footage has emerged that shows police officers allowing a K-9 to bite a naked, unarmed man in San Diego.
The harrowing video obtained by the NBC4 I-Team starts off with patrol officers from the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) telling the 25-year-old man to walk toward them.
‘Come on up,’ officers are heard saying as the man walks up a hillside.
The police had responded to a report of a naked man screaming and running through a canyon in University City around 8.30am on a Saturday in August 2015.
Officers told the man that they needed him to turn around once he got to the top of the hill.
As the man stands in front of the officers, who are telling him to turn around, he yells repeatedly, ‘No!’
One of the officers then unleashed the K-9 that tackled the man to the ground and tore into his calf, spewing blood everywhere.
Attorneys who’ve seen the video say it amounts to excessive force, and raises questions for all police departments about how they use K-9s, NBC reported.
The dog continued to tear into the man’s leg while he was pinned down by several officers for nearly a minute, the video shows.
And at one point an officer appeared to pet the dog while it still had a grip on the man’s calf, gnawing to the bone as the man screamed out in agony.
‘It wasn’t necessary to use the dog to begin with and it sure as hell wasn’t necessary or needed or appropriate to let the dog continue to bite,’ civil rights attorney Donald W. Cook, who is not representing the victim, told NBC.
The victim told the network that he ended up naked in the canyon after a night of partying.
‘I take some responsibility because I was under the influence,’ said the man, who asked not to be named. ‘But nothing justifies the cops use of such force,’ he said.
The SDPD policy states ‘if possible, give at least two warnings in a loud and clear manner’ before allowing a dog to bite.
But no warning was given to the man at the time.
The officer handling the K-9 wrote in his official police report that, ‘due to the immediate threat I did not have an opportunity to give K-9 warnings’, NBC reported.
He wrote that he believed the man ‘posed an immediate threat to officers due to the fact he was clinching his fists and walking towards them’.
The officer also said that the man was ‘was under the influence of a controlled substance and was very agitated with officers’.
Cook called the incident ‘excessive and ‘animalistic’.
The man, who is a businessman in the San Diego, wasn’t charged with any crimes and he sued the City of San Diego for excessive force.
In his legal complaint, his attorneys said the officers ‘acted with unnecessary, cruel and despicable conduct and in wanton disregard for the civil rights, health and safety’ of his client, the network reported.
In response, the city wrote: ‘At all times, the conduct of the defendants was reasonable, lawful, based on probable cause and within the scope of their official duties and employment.’
San Diego Police Department spokesman Lt Scott Wahl issued a statement regarding the video on Tuesday saying that the video shows ‘the agitated and defiant demeanor of a man under the influence of LSD’.
‘When played in its entirety, the video shows our officers trying to gain his compliance before he became defiant.
‘While the split second decisions of police officers are easy to second guess when you know the outcome, keep in mind the deployment of our K-9 is intended to prevent the situation from escalating.’
The San Diego City Council approved a $385,000 settlement just last week.
The man said that his right leg has been left partially and permanently disabled and he will have a ‘disability for life’.