Nickolas Pearce is a Salt Lake City police officer who was charged Wednesday in connection with allegedly ordering a police dog to attack a Black man who was surrendering to police, on his knees with his hands in the air, resulting in multiple injuries, KSTU-TV reported.
Officer Pearce has been placed on administrative leave since the video of the incident became public last month.
Nickolas Pearce Charged After The K9 attack
Pearce used “unlawful force” when he allegedly ordered his K9, “Tuco”, to bite Jeffrey Ryans, a black man, during a domestic violence response call, according to a probable cause statement.
Ryans was not resisting arrest, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill confirmed.
What Actually Happened?
Police responded to Ryans’ residence around 3:30 am after Ryans’ daughter made the 911 call to police, according to a recording of the call released by police.
“My dad is doing very bad things to our family”, the daughter said.
“He is yelling and screaming”, she says, as raised voices are heard in the background.
Police asked Ryans to leave the house, and also spoke to his wife, who confirmed that she has a protective order and told officers that Jeffery was in the house when she arrived home.
Six officers yelled at Ryans: “You’re not supposed to be here Jeffery”.
Several officers can be heard ordering Ryans to “get on the ground.” One officer says that Ryans tried to jump the fence, according to the probable cause statement.
Pearce ordered Ryans to get on the ground. Three seconds later, Pearce kicked Ryans and then ordered a K9 named Tuco to bite the suspect, the video shows.
Nickolas Pearce’s Body-Worn Camera Shows
“He certainly wasn’t posing an imminent threat of violence or harm to anyone, and he certainly wasn’t concealed. He was fenced in an area and was being compliant”, Gill said.
“When K9 Tuco engaged and was biting Ryans, [Pearce] continually praised and encouraged K9 Tuco”, the probable cause statement said, according to the news station.
“While he was being attacked by K9 Tuco, Ryans expressed extreme emotions reflective of pain and questioned why he was being attacked when he was not resisting”.
Nickolas Pearce Under Investigation
According to Ryans’ attorney, Gabriel White, Ryans, and his wife had an argument in December that resulted in her seeking a protection order against him, but they had since reconciled.
Ryans had been back in the house for weeks.
The police department had been called to the home several times for domestic violence issues.
Ryans was hospitalized and had several surgeries on his leg, which became infected.
Officer Pearce, who is charged with an aggravated assault, was placed on leave in August and the department suspended the use of K9s after body camera footage of the incident was released.