UNITED STATES NEWS

Ohio police chief says K-9 handler was deceptive during probe of dog attack on surrendering trucker

Aug 1, 2023, 11:18 AM | Updated: 12:08 pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio police agency shared records Tuesday that showed an officer who released his police dog on a surrendering truck driver was repeatedly told not to keep talking about the incident before he was fired last week.

Records provided to The Associated Press by the Circleville Police Department indicated Officer Ryan Speakman met twice with Chief Shawn Baer to discuss reports of Speakman crying, talking to employees, families and K-9 trainers and exhibiting stress-related behavior after the July 4 incident.

The Circleville Police Department fired Officer Speakman last week, alleging that he “did not meet the standards and expectations we hold for our police officers.”

Late last month, Baer wrote that Speakman had “released confidential information” and was deceptive when Baer sought information from him.

A representative for Speakman’s union, the Ohio Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, said it would return a call by The Associated Press later. The organization filed a grievance last week on his behalf arguing he had been fired without just cause.

During a July 19 meeting, Baer wrote, he met with Speakman over reports that he had been crying and speaking to colleagues about being stressed over the incident. Baer said he told Speakman that his conduct was not beneficial to himself or the agency, according to the documents the department provided.

The two met again on July 20, following reports Speakman was still speaking with colleagues about the matter. Baer asked Speakman for a list of people he spoke to about the situation. After receiving the list, Speakman admitted to also sharing details of the incident with members of his family.

According to the report, Speakman reportedly implored Baer to not “take his best friend from him,” meaning the police dog involved in the attack. The agency records also state Speakman provided a two-page list to investigators of the people outside the police department with whom he spoke following the attack.

His firing came one day after the department said he had been placed on paid administrative leave, a standard practice during use-of-force investigations.

The town’s civilian police review board found Speakman did not violate department policy when he deployed the dog, police said last week, although the review board lacks authority to recommend discipline.

Speakman, who joined the Circleville department in February 2020, deployed his police dog following a lengthy pursuit involving the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Troopers tried to stop a truck that was missing a mudflap and failed to halt for an inspection, according to a highway patrol report. Circleville Police was asked to assist.

Jadarrius Rose initially refused to get out of the truck and later defied instructions to get on the ground, according to the incident report and the body cam video. Rose eventually got on his knees and raised his hands in the air.

The body camera video shows Speakman holding back the dog, and a trooper can be heard off-camera repeatedly yelling, “Do not release the dog with his hands up!” However, Speakman deployed the dog and it can be seen in the video attacking Rose, who said, “Get it off! Please! Please!”

Rose was treated at a hospital for dog bites.

He was charged with failure to comply, and hasn’t responded to an email sent last week seeking comment. Florida-based attorney Benjamin Crump announced last week that he would represent Rose. Crump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s not clear why Rose refused to stop for police. Rose is Black, and Speakman is white. Rose told The Columbus Dispatch that he couldn’t talk about why he didn’t stop. But when asked about the video, told the newspaper: “I’m just glad that it was recorded. What you saw is what, pretty much, happened.”

Audio recordings of 911 calls show Rose told emergency dispatchers that the officers pursuing him were “trying to kill” him and he didn’t feel safe pulling over. He also said he was confused about why the officers were trying to stop him and why they had their guns drawn after he briefly stopped the truck before driving away.

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Ohio police chief says K-9 handler was deceptive during probe of dog attack on surrendering trucker