COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A police officer in rural Ohio was fired Wednesday after he released his police dog on a surrendering truck driver despite state troopers telling him to hold the K9 back.
The Circleville Police Department said Ryan Speakman “did not meet the standards and expectations we hold for our police officers” and his termination is “effective immediately.” His firing comes a day after the department said he was on paid administrative leave, which is standard during use-of-force investigations.
The town’s civilian police review board has found Speakman didn’t violate department policy when he deployed the dog, Wednesday’s police statement said, adding that the review board doesn’t have the authority to recommend discipline.
Department officials said they would have no further comment on the matter “at this time” since it’s a personnel matter. Messages seeking comment from Speakman were not immediately returned.
The Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, a police union Speakman belongs to, said Wednesday it had filed a grievance on his behalf and that he was fired without just cause.
Speakman, who joined the Circleville department in February 2020, deployed his police dog following a lengthy pursuit on July 4 involving the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The episode was captured on a police body camera.
Troopers tried to stop a commercial semitruck that was missing a mudflap and failed to halt for an inspection, according to a highway patrol incident report. The nearby Circleville Police Department was called in to assist.
The 23-year-old truck driver, Jadarrius Rose of Memphis, Tennessee, initially refused to get out of the truck and later defied instructions to get on the ground, according to the incident report and the body cam video. Rose eventually got on his knees and raised his hands in the air.
The body camera video shows Speakman holding back the K9, and a trooper can be heard off-camera repeatedly yelling, “Do not release the dog with his hands up!” However, Speakman deploys the dog and it can be seen in the video attacking Rose, who yells “Get it off! Please! Please!”
Rose was treated at a hospital for dog bites.
He was charged with failure to comply, and hasn’t responded to an email sent Monday seeking comment. Attorney Benjamin Partee, who is representing Rose, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s not clear why he refused to stop for police. Rose is Black, and Speakman is white. Rose told The Columbus Dispatch that he couldn’t talk about why he didn’t stop. But when asked about the video, told the newspaper: “I’m just glad that it was recorded. What you saw is what, pretty much, happened.”
Audio recordings of 911 calls show Rose told emergency dispatchers that the officers pursuing him were “trying to kill” him and he didn’t feel safe pulling over. He also said he was confused about why the officers were trying to stop him and why they had their guns drawn after he briefly stopped the truck before driving away.
Samantha Hendrickson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.