Disturbing video of cop disciplining K9 prompts investigation in North Carolina




 

A K-9 handler at a police department in North Carolina appears to lift a police dog in training by his leash, slam him into the side of a patrol car and hit him in a video sent to a Charlotte-area TV station.

Officials now say the incident is under review.

Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes told reporters during a news conference Tuesday he "cannot comment in detail because it is an ongoing personnel matter," but said the dog has been separated from the officer during the investigation.

"The canine was not harmed and is healthy and being well-cared for," he said.

Salisbury is about 45 minutes northeast of Charlotte on I-85. Its police department employs 81 people, including 72 sworn officers..

The nearly one-minute video was first published by Fox 46 after an anonymous source sent it in, the TV station reported. It was not immediately clear Tuesday when the incident took place, and the chief declined to answer reporters' questions after the news conference.

In the video, the officer is seen exiting a police SUV with the back door open. As he walks away, the dog leaps from the open door and tries to follow. The officer is then heard yelling, and the dog appears to immediately lay down.

The cop walks toward the dog - whom Stokes later identified as Zuul - and puts his leash on. The video then shows him lifting Zuul up by the leash and swinging him around his back as he walks back to the SUV.

"We're good, no witnesses," someone in the video can be heard saying.

Zuul is then slammed into the side of the SUV by his handler with a thud before being shoved back inside, the video shows. The officer appears to yell "stay" before lifting a hand and hitting the K9. Another voice in the background then asks "Is your camera on?"

"No, my power is off," the person who appears to be recording replies.

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The chief said Tuesday an outside agency is investigating the incident and will talk to former K-9 handlers at other police departments, the owner of a canine training firm and "internal K9 supervisory staff."

He added they already determined that "no Taser was used on the dog at any point by anyone."

Stokes said police dogs are trained to be used against criminal suspects and must be handled as such, meaning officers must have complete control over them at all times.

"When a canine is non-compliant with the handler's commands, the handler is trained to correct the dog," he said. "Canine training tactics and corrective measures can sometimes be alarming out of context. SPD cannot and will not comment about whether the training tactics used in the video were appropriate, because that is still being reviewed."

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