Police in Canton, Ohio, sicced a K-9 unit on a man earlier this month for refusing to provide identification or step out of his car during a traffic stop.
Graphic video shows police breaking the window of Ronald Wagner's car and siccing a dog on him:
According to local news reports, Wagner was pulled over by an Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper for having a handmade license plate. When asked by a police officer, he refused to hand over his driver's license or registration, or tell the officer his name. After the numbers on Wagner's handmade license plate returned a name linked to a concealed carry license, the officer called for backup.
Police tried to coax Wagner out of the car for 20 minutes, during which he politely but firmly refused to comply. He also told police he wasn't armed. Officers then gave Wagner a final warning, broke his driver's side window, and sicced a K-9 unit, a Belgian Malinois, on him. (The Belgian Malinois is known among police and breed enthusiasts as the "maligator" because of its incredible bite strength and tenacity. Among dog breeds, it's one of the last you would want to latch on to you.)
To be clear, Wagner was required to provide his ID when asked. The local news site CantonRep.com has an extensive explainer quoting state legal experts. The general gist: Yes, you must present a driver's license and registration when asked by a police officer during a traffic stop. No, you may not drive with handwritten tags instead of license plates.
Wagner's insistence that the police orders were legal but not "lawful" sounds like rhetoric used by so-called sovereign citizens, who believe—through rather convoluted reasoning—that they're not bound by licensing laws and other driving requirements. Reason has previously written about sovereign citizens and the reactions they provoke from law enforcement.
It's a seperate question, however, whether Wagner's severely deficient understanding of the law, and his passive resistance, were good reasons for his arm to be ripped to shreds. A dog isn't a negotiator or mental health worker, which might be more useful in some cases than a set of teeth.
Although police no longer use dogs for crowd control, there have been several incidents in recent years of poor oversight or sheer bloodlust leading to bloody police dog maulings. For example, a San Diego officer sicced a K-9 unit on a naked, unarmed man who was tripping on LSD in 2016.
In 2015, a Sarasota Herald Tribune investigation found the local North Port, Florida, police department had sicced dogs on unarmed, juvenile, and in some cases suicidal residents. Text messages uncovered by the newspaper showed K-9 handlers bragging and congratulating each other after their dogs mauled people.
The Canton Police Department told local news outlets it is reviewing the incident to see if any policies were broken.
In the meantime, Wagner has had two surgeries on his mangled arm. He pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanor charges at a court hearing earlier this week.