Indiana officer caught on video kicking pit bull near school fired

A Westfield, Indiana, police officer who was filmed kicking an aggressive Doberman pinscher on video has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

The video, which was posted to YouTube on Monday and had received more than 1.2 million views and 93,000 shares by Tuesday evening, begins with a man — whose shirt is off — getting out of a police car to confront the dog. The officer approaches the man, but the man backs away before another officer is involved. The officer then kicks the man, calls him names and uses a Taser on the dog.

A second officer then steps in to restrain the dog, but the officer quickly leaves the scene after it begins growling and barking at them. As the officer is being escorted off the scene, his head can be seen bouncing around before landing on the hood of the police car.

The dog had locked its jaws on the officers’ legs, the Hillsdale Police Department said in a statement. It also said the dog had bit other officers multiple times over the weekend and that the three-year-old dog had “drifted into attacking mode” when the officers moved to remove him from the area.

Police have not released the identity of the officers.

The Hillsdale Police Department would not say whether the man who was detained in the video received medical attention, nor would it confirm that the dog was not injured.

“The Hillsdale Police Department maintains the highest levels of professionalism and respect for all members of the community regardless of race, nationality, age, religion, sexual orientation, or political persuasion,” the statement said. “This standard of behavior is how we conduct ourselves at all times and we always strive to do better.”

The suburb of 19,000 people is nearly 30 miles west of Detroit.

Several newspapers published headlines alongside the video questioning the officer’s actions. The Associated Press referred to him as “belligerent,” while the Detroit Free Press wrote that he “was aggressively over his eight-year-old police department training and fired off a volley of racial epithets at the black man he was arresting.” The New York Daily News called the video “appalling” and “controversial.”

The New York Post referred to the incident as “racist abuse” and wrote that the cop’s actions “can’t be excused,” but also noted that “hate speech is protected by the First Amendment” in that state.

Others, including the Detroit Free Press, said the video’s circumstances were being overblown.

The officer was suspended without pay on Tuesday, the police department said. The police department added that the investigation into the incident will also include whether other officers could be charged for their roles in the incident. The video was filmed with a GoPro helmet camera that allegedly contained audio.

Local news reports have quoted the animal rights group PETA and described the dog’s owner as a 58-year-old man who had just returned home from work when he saw the dog panting at him as he entered the driveway. The dog had been behaving aggressively and had “slammed its head on the ground several times,” the man told ABC affiliate WTOL-TV. The owner said the dog charged at him and “grabbed him by the arm and yanked him to the ground.”

The dog had never bitten anyone and had only engaged in “nuisance behavior,” the Hillsdale Police Department said.

“Our city police officers are trained to deal with specific situations involving dogs,” the police department added in its statement. “Although it is our policy to never talk about an individual’s race or color, we want everyone to know that the Hillsdale Police Department has a very good working relationship with the Hillsdale community.”

An online petition demanding the officer’s firing has been started by the Hillsdale Reform Society. It notes that the incident happened near an elementary school and schools have held “meetings with local officials” to discuss the dog’s behavior, which is a felony.

By Meghan O’Connell and Karen Brady, The Washington Post

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