Police Abuse

Police K-9 Attacks Man's Face After Neighbor Calls 911 Over Christmas Tree Burning in Barrel

He had his hands up but couldn't get off the couch, because he had his hands up.


via Salt Lake Tribune

In 2013, Martin Hoogveldt burned his Christmas tree in a barrel in his backyard in West Jordan, Utah, to dispose of it. A neighbor called 911 to report an arson. Three cops, including one with a German shepherd K-9 respond to a "felony arson" call. They demand to enter his home and when they don't get an answer they bust in and find Hoogveldt on the couch. They order him to put his hands up and then to get up, but, his lawsuit alleges, Hoogveldt could not get up from his overstuffed couch without putting his hands back down. That's when a cop released the K-9, which attacked Hoogveldt's face. His lawyer released the video at a press conference announcing the lawsuit (you can watch it here, it's graphic, and runs from the cops leaving their car to after the dog attacks the man).

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

The other officers then used Tasers on Hoogveldt.

Sykes estimated they used Tasers on him three to four times. One to two minutes later, Pyro bit Hoogveldt severely on his buttocks at Adams' direction, the complaint adds.

Ultimately, he suffered bites to his face, neck, buttocks, leg and arm. The bites cost Hoogveldt about $60,000 in plastic surgery.

"This ruined my life," Hoogveldt said Thursday.

At no point had Hoogveldt harmed anyone, and all Adams knew going in was that he had burned trash in a trash can and "perhaps other similar minor offenses," the complaint reads.

Though the video runs until after the K-9 attack, the West Jordan police insist the officers felt threatened and were justified in their use of force, because there was an empty knife sheath on the table and the fire was still burning in the barrel in the backyard. Hoogveldt, of course, got slammed with a series of charges, including aggravated assault and reckless burning. He pled in abeyance to the burning and eventually all the charges were dismissed.

Ian Adams, one of the cops involved, and who the suit named specifically, previously shot a man he said had a metal handle with a red laser taped to it he thought was a gun. It was ruled justified. None of the cops, of course, have faced any consequences for the way they handled their interaction with Hoogveldt, even with body cam footage available to them for two years.