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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bite investigation ongoing

Friday, October 25, 2013

Clay Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers
More than a week after an incident at the Clay County Courthouse involving a K-9 officer biting a student during the opening ceremony of Red Ribbon Awareness week, the Brazil Police Department is conducting an investigation.

In a statement released to The Brazil Times on Friday, the city declined further comment on the incident until the conclusion of its investigation into the incident.

"One of the goals of the investigation is to determine whether anything can be done to prevent such accidents in the future," according to the statement released by the city. "Everyone at the City and the Police Department was saddened by this incident."

According to a police report submitted by Officer Ray Walters, both himself and officer Robert Van Buren were requested by Clay County Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers to demonstrate to a group of fifth-graders what the K-9 unit does for the police department.

Akers told The Brazil Times following the incident last Thursday he requested a blank incident report from the Clay County Auditor's Office and voluntarily submitted the initial report to The Brazil Times.

"I am taking this matter very seriously and the focus should be on the speed and recovery of this young boy," Akers said.

The incident report submitted by Akers stated four scenarios were staged to illustrate the dog's abilities, with the incident occurring during the third scenario. The scenarios were split between the two units, with Officer Van Buren and dog Titan helping out.

"This was a drug awareness skit that involved the use of a drug dog where police bust an underage alcohol/drug party," Akers said. "The only equipment would include the Brazil City Police drug dog and dog handlers."

Brazil Police Chief Clint McQueen said a very small amount of illegal drugs were present during the exercise and "under exclusive control and supervision of members of the court and law enforcement."

However, Akers said while drugs were present in the room, "marijuana was not planted on kids in any way."

During the third scenario, the report filed by Walters stated as Max approached the first male juvenile, he looked at Max and noticed, "he was in search mode." The report continued that as Max got closer and conducted his search, the first male juvenile "began moving his legs around as Max searched him." The report stated the movement of the legs is believed to be what "prompted Max's action to bite."

"I spoke with the juveniles in the scenario and asked them to be still when the dogs were present," Walters said in his report.

However, according to the incident report submitted by Akers, the child moved as instructed prior to the start of the exercise.

"The students had been initially instructed by police to lay facedown on the 'police bust' which involves a police dog. The student was seated near the dog handler and the drug dog," Akers said in the statement. "The student was instructed later to sit up and during the process of sitting up, the sudden move by the student (who followed police instruction) to sit up caused the dog to attack. The student did nothing wrong."

There was no mention of an instruction given to the student to sit up during the demonstration or that students were instructed to lie facedown in Walter's report.

According to the officer's report, following the attack he immediately gave the command for release, pulled up on the leash and after a few seconds Max released his grip on the child and ran behind Walters. The report stated Walters then exited immediately with the dog.

"I personally observed one quarter size leg wound caused by the bite on the student's left leg," Akers said in the submitted incident report. "However, I later learned there were at least two bites."

Akers added the student was assisted by both himself and a Clay County Sheriff officer to receive medical attention. He added the child was transported to St. Vincent Clay Hospital and was later taken by his parents to Union Hospital for surgery.

McQueen said the dog was taken out of service as a result of the incident. He added the K-9 officer was taken to the veterinarian for testing following the accident.

Since the incident, the Clay County Sheriff's Department was requested by the Clay County Commissioners to conduct an investigation for insurance purposes.

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This is a shame... Everyone of these people should be held accountable even Akers. If my dog done this it would be put down and charges filed. In my opinion the BPD isn't competent enough to have K9s. Stupid decisions by our "leaders". If they wanted to do a simulation they should have used adult actors who are trained to do so, not children...stupid...stupid...stupid...

-- Posted by no1special on Sat, Oct 26, 2013, at 9:36 AM

I'm troubled by the seeming inference that the officers Walters and VanBuren didn't give a complete report of the incident. This article goes much more indepth as to what happened. Also, the Times reporter should have dug deeper to find these facts; unless the facts were deliberately withheld. In which case, unfortunately, it seems to be a cover-up. Hopefully everyone involved will do the right thing. We all know that sometimes doing the right thing is the hardest thing. Even though there was no intent to harm, harm was done, and covering up or omitting certain facts only adds to the list and makes the officers and the department look suspicious.

-- Posted by catbaby on Sat, Oct 26, 2013, at 10:49 AM

Yes, the story has changed between what the chief of police reported and what the judge reported. Who's brilliant idea was it to treat fifth graders like perps, having them lay face down on the floor? Who would want their children treated like that?

It makes sense things went wrong on the third scenario. A K-9's job is to apprehend a suspect by biting them (sometimes by barking), so after two scenarios the dog probably felt the need to bite on the third scenario.

I am sure that there will be no consequences for any of the "adults" in this fiasco.

-- Posted by Tribulis on Mon, Oct 28, 2013, at 3:44 PM

I think its wrong for the dog to be taken out of service. Seems to me he was the only one that did his JOB LIKE HE WAS SUPPOSED TO!!!!! Im sorry the little boy got hurt as a result but people who are SUPPOSED to be smarter than animals!!! Our local officals at work once again....

-- Posted by beachbunny on Sun, Nov 3, 2013, at 9:20 PM

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