In a report by the Clay County Sheriff's Department, submitted to the Clay County Commissioners, a Brazil Police Department officer said he was reluctant in participating in a skit with a K-9 officer that ending with a student being bitten.
During a staged scenario on Oct. 17, 2013, at the Clay County Courthouse, a BPD K-9 officer named Max injured a fifth-grade student while he and his handler, Officer Ray Walters, were conducting a simulated narcotics search. The scenario was part of a host of activities planned for Red Ribbon Day.
According to the report, the skit was conducted for the past several years without any incident. The scenario simulates a drug search at a "raided" party by a K-9 unit with students possessing "a small amount of marijuana hid near or on them." For the past several years, the Clay County Sheriff's Department's K-9 units performed the searches.
According to the sheriff's report, Walters said he noticed the dog "acting up" and was "nervous" about his continued participation in the scenarios.
According to a statement submitted by Walters to the Clay County Sheriff's Department, Walters shared his hesitance to be a part of the scenarios in the presence of Clay County Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers, Brazil Police Department Officer Robert Van Buren and Clay County Civil Deputy Benny Boes.
"After the second scenario, I openly expressed concern about the dope being placed on the juveniles as the K-9's can't distinguish between acting and real life," Walters said. "Both K-9's have a tendency to bite at the dope as well as individuals who move during search."
Akers, Van Buren and Boes later provided statements that they were unaware of Walters' concern about the dog's state prior to the beginning of the scenario, according to the sheriff's report.
"Judge Akers said that he would have changed the skit if he had any indication that any of the children were in any type of danger," according to the sheriff's report.
Despite his concerns, Walters' statement stated it was felt by everyone that it would be OK to continue with the next scenario.
"Walters said that Judge Akers instructed him to continue with the skit, saying that he'd done this skit numerous times and nothing had ever happened," according to the report by the sheriff's department.
There was no mention of him expressing his reluctance to be a part of the scenario or the dogs affinity to "bite at the dope" during searches in Walters' police report submitted to The Brazil Times.
In a recent submission provided by Akers, the judge told The Brazil Times "marijuana was not planted on the kids in any way." According to Van Buren's statement submitted to the sheriff's department, "Judge Akers said that two of the juveniles would have illegal narcotics on their person." In addition, a Brazil Police Department K-9 Use of Force Report stated during the scenario drugs were on the individual next to the victim.
During the third scenario, according to several submitted reports, while Max began his search of the young man, the dog bit him on the leg. Walters repeatedly yelled the command for release and pulled up on the dog's collar.
Witnesses of the bite stated the male moved his legs to allow the K-9 to sniff for drugs, according to the report, before the dog bit. It is believed that the movement of the legs is what caused Max to bite.
According to a statement submitted by Boes, he had to intervene to free the child of the dog's grasp. This was the only statement submitted to the sheriff's department citing someone having to intervene to remove the dog.
The child was then immediately taken away for medical attention at the Clay County Justice Center before being moved to a hospital for further treatment.
Following the incident the dog was taken out of service and taken to a veterinarian for tests. The Brazil Police Department is currently conducting an investigation into the matter.