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A Utah police officer was charged with aggravated assault almost five months after body camera footage showed him ordering his K-9 police dog to bite a Black man who was on his knees with his hands in the air, prosecutors said.
Salt Lake City Police Officer Nickolas Pearce was charged Wednesday with second-degree felony aggravated assault in the April 24 incident that left 36-year-old Jeffrey Ryans with lasting leg injuries and disfigurement, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office said.
Ryans “wasn’t resisting arrest,” District Attorney Sam Gill told The Salt Lake Tribune. “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.”
Authorities responded to a domestic violence call at Ryans’ house, where officers confronted Ryans outside. The officers said they believed that Ryans — who had an existing protective order prohibiting him from going to the home — was trying to flee the scene, according to a report by the city’s Civilian Review Board.
Ryans did not appear to immediately follow Pearce’s order to get on the ground, but Ryans did appear to comply before Pearce ordered the dog four times to “hit,” the command for bite, the Civilian Review Board reported.
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