SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A local civil rights leader visited Sunday with a man whose arrest drew national attention when video showed a San Diego police dog biting him while he was handcuffed.
Reverend Shane Harris, president of the National Action Network’s San Diego chapter, said the video showed what “was clearly excessive force.”
Harris visited the jail Sunday and then spook with the media about how the National Action Network will help the subject of the video “take legal action against the city of San Diego for excessive force by the San Diego Police Department.”
Karond Perry Cheatum, 26, remained jailed in lieu of a $150,000 bond on a felony robbery charge, online court records showed. He also faces felony counts of making death threats, vandalism over $400 and vehicle theft, and a misdemeanor count of obstructing arrest.
Cheatum pleaded not guilty to the charges and is due in court Friday for further proceedings in the case.
Two videos of the Sunday arrest have been posted on the web. A ten-second video of the beginning of the incident — which has attracted little attention — shows the dog and its handler taking Cheatum to the ground.
In that video, the officer yells at Cheatum, who is still on his feet and not yet in handcuffs, to “get down” and “show me your hands.” As the officer and dog force Cheatum to the ground, he tells the officer “here are my hands, right here.”
A video that has garnered wider attention was recorded by Facebook user Angel Nunez. It picks up with Cheatum lying face down in the street with his arms handcuffed behind his back.
When the video begins, the dog — which appears to be a German Shepherd or Belgian Malinois — has Cheatum’s left forearm clamped in its jaws while the officer appears to be using a device around the dog’s throat to pull it away.
“Why can’t you call your dog off?” someone asks from off camera as the officer continues to apparently struggle to pull the dog away, and Cheatum yells in apparent pain.
About 15 seconds into the video, two additional officers arrive and hold Cheatum’s legs as the dog continues to bite Cheatum’s forearm, at times with its two front paws standing on Cheatum’s shoulder and back.
As witnesses ask the officers why they can’t control the animal, Cheatum screams a final time as the officer pulls the dog off his forearm, 34 seconds into the video. It is unclear how long the dog was attached to his arm before the video started.
“The dog did exactly what he was trained to do,” said Lt. Scott Wahl “It’s a bite and hold technique which minimizes the amount of injury that can be inflicted”
But Harris and other activists are saying the incident is another example of excessive use of force by police against black suspects. Harris said the National Action Network will assist Cheatum to take legal action, while the group Moms of Black Boys United for Social Change is demanding the release of police body camera footage of the incident, according to the website Snopes.