Police cornered three young boys inside a school building at 10:30 p.m. last week, and though the boys appeared to pose no real threat — at least two of them getting down on the floor immediately when the officers ordered them to do so — the cops unleashed an attack dog on the third boy.
Orlando, Florida, police say that on June 4, they caught the three kids breaking into portable classrooms at Shingle Creek Elementary School. A police report says that while the other two kids were on the grounds, the third turned and ran away from the police.
But according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, the other two youngsters say differently. They say that their friend was already down on his knees when the police released the trained attack dog to maul him.
Police dogs are generally trained to sink their teeth into a suspect’s arm and not let go — and that’s what the K-9 officer did to the 12-year-old boy, who turned 13 about a week after the attack, and whose name is withheld because he’s a minor. According to his family, however, he suffered what looks like three separate bite wounds.
But whether the boy was running away, as the cops claim, or already giving up, the incident has raised questions about whether police dogs should be used to attack juvenile suspects at all. Bradley Laurent, the family’s attorney, said the following.
“I would imagine that they have enough training to restrain a 12-year-old… I don’t see why it would be necessary to release a dog. A dog that you know is going to cause some serious injury.”
The boys were charged with burglary and trespassing. Police say they recovered some school supplies from the kids.
“They’re kids. They’re going to make mistakes,” said Laurent. “I don’t understand why you would deploy a K-9 on a child.”
Now, the boy’s family is preparing a lawsuit because they say their son spent three days in the hospital, and now must return to the doctor on a weekly basis to see if he had suffered nerve damage from the attack, at least until the swelling in his arm goes down and the boy’s doctor can get a better diagnosis.
The suit would be the second this year filed against the Orlando police for allegedly using an attack dog against a minor. The police have not commented on the incident, though they say they are investigating.
[Images: South Coast K9, WHIO TV]