SAN DIEGO – A local activist called today on San Diego police Chief Shelley Zimmerman to release body-worn camera footage showing a police dog biting a handcuffed man.
The Rev. Shane Harris, president of the National Action Network’s San Diego chapter, also called on the dog in the video to be taken out of service and said the footage raises questions about the department’s use of force.
The arrest of Karond Perry Cheatum, which occurred July 9 downtown, gained national attention after Facebook users posted videos showing the police dog biting the 26-year-old man as he lay handcuffed on the ground.
Officers had responded after receiving reports of a man acting erratically, screaming in the streets and jumping on vehicles.
“This video was very concerning to people,” Harris said at a news conference outside SDPD headquarters.
“Not because people disagreed with him being arrested. Not because everyone is saying that he’s perfect … The biggest concern was, after he was arrested, how the K-9 dog continued to eat his arm away.”
In the video, an officer is seen trying pull the dog away for more than 30 seconds as Cheatum cries out in apparent pain.
A San Diego police lieutenant defended the actions of the dog and officers in the video, saying the animal “did exactly what he was trained to do.”
“It’s a bite-and-hold technique which minimizes the amount of injury that can be inflicted,” Lt. Scott Wahl said.
But Harris and others said the bite lasted far too long.
Attorney Dante Pride, who said he would represent Cheatum in his criminal case and in a civil case alleging excessive use of force by the police department, said it’s unclear how long the dog was biting Cheatum before the video recording began.
Cheatum remains jailed in lieu of $150,000 bail on a robbery charge.
He also faces felony counts of making death threats, vandalism over $400 and vehicle theft, and a misdemeanor count of obstructing arrest.
He pleaded not guilty to those charges and is due in court Friday for further proceedings in the case.
His attorney said Cheatum was severely injured but is “healing as well as we could hope.”