Police have the right to clear witnesses away from an unjustified K9 attack
Case: RAINEY v. PATTON (S.D.Ohio 6-1-2012)
Antwan Roland was on a scooter near Camvic Terrace and witnessed the incident [where a police dog bit an arrestee who was lying on the ground]. . . . Roland further testified that Patton allowed some slack in the K9’s chain, and the K9 lunged forward and bit Rainey on the back. (Roland dep. at 26). After Rainey is bitten by the K9 unit, Officer Patton noticed that Roland is present at the scene. (Patton dep. at 39). Thereafter, Patton secured the K9 unit in his cruiser and ordered Roland to leave the area. (Patton dep. at 39; Roland dep. at 32). Patton testified that he told Roland to leave the scene because Rainey was not yet handcuffed and it was distracting to have a bystander present while Rainey was unrestrained. (Patton dep. at 39). . . . According to Roland, after Rainey was bitten, Officer Patton told Roland to leave and Roland stated “I’m not even close to you guys, I’m far away, I ain’t got nothing to do with anything.” (Roland dep. at 14-15). Roland testified he and Patton continued to shout at one another and Patton told Roland that if he was still on the scene with Officer Goff arrived he was going to jail. (Roland dep. at 33). Roland further testified that while he and Patton were shouting at each other, Plaintiff Rainey was uncuffed and still face down on the ground. . . . Officer Goff arrived at the scene, handcuffed Rainey and escorted her to the cruiser. . . . As Rainey was being escorted to the police cruiser, Roland testified that he and Rainey continued yelling back and forth to one another about the incident.
. . . As a result, Goff asked Roland to leave the scene at least three times. (Goff dep. at 21). Roland refused to leave and Goff ultimately detained him for disorderly conduct. Roland, however, asserts that he remained about 100 feet away from Officer Patton throughout the entire incident. (Roland Aff., ¶ 10). . . . Roland’s case proceeded to trial and he was ultimately acquitted on the charge of disorderly conduct.
Decision: Court found no 4a violation for the disorderly conduct charge.
Comment: This is a disgusting result. An arrestee was on the ground being bitten, and bitten rather seriously, by a police K9. This decision basically says that police have the right to clear that kind of scene of disinterested witnesses. This is the kind of decision that effectively defeats a right to record excessive police force, even though recording was not an issue in this particular case. It did not help that Judge Bowman also ruled that it is acceptable for a police K9 unit to bite an arrestee who is lying on the ground and not going anywhere. I hope there is an appeal on this one. There should be.