Disturbing footage of an incident which saw three white Missouri police officers let their K-9 dog attack a Black man has prompted the county prosecutor’s office to announce a probe.
The incident which happened on Monday and was caught on cellphone video has sparked outrage online.
Although the local police department issued a statement on the same day, defending its officers’ actions, the St Louis County prosecutor’s office on Wednesday said it was investigating the incident.
Three officers were responding “to a local business for a subject trespassing and refusing to leave,” according to Missouri’s City of Woodson Terrace Police Department.
The statement added that upon the arrival of the officers, the man left the business, but later was spotted by the police.
Once the officers “made contact” with the suspect, he “immediately started threatening to kill the officers,” the department claimed.
The officers attempted to arrest the man, but he resisted, according to the statement.
The officers claimed they warned him that a police dog would be employed if he continued to resist, adding they then released the dog because the man continued to ignore their orders.
However, in the video, the man does not appear to be resisting the law enforcement officers. The video shows two white policemen pressing the Black man against the police vehicle, with a third one standing close by, holding a barking dog on a leash.
It can be seen that the officer then releases the dog, which bites the suspect’s leg. He lets the dog bite the man for about 30 seconds till he falls to the ground, howling in pain.
The two officers can then be seen pinning the person to the ground, as the dog continues to nip at his ankle. The third police officer eventually pulls the animal away.
However, moments later as the victim attempts to take a step, he trips and the officer can be seen letting the dog attack him again, biting his leg for another 30 seconds before the officer stops the animal. The man screams in pain before falling to the ground again.
The officers then handcuff the man and lead him to a patrol car, although he barely walks.
The police department said an ambulance was sent to the scene, but the man refused medical treatment at first, although he was taken to the hospital later after he complained about the injuries.
The man, who was not identified, was not charged and has since been released from custody.
Police brutality against Black people in the US has led to mass protests across the country in recent years and the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement.