CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio’s top law enforcement official is weighing in on the K9 bite that has captured the nation’s attention.
The July 4 incident resulted in the termination of Circleville police officer Ryan Speakman.
Ohio State Troopers had just chased truck driver Jadarrius Rose more than 20 miles across three counties after they say Rose would not stop for an inspection. The pursuit ended on U.S. Route 23 in Circleville after troopers used stop sticks to pop one of the truck’s tires.
As multiple troopers can be heard telling Speakman not to release the dog, Speakman released his K9 and directed the dog toward Rose, who was standing with his hands in the air.
The dog, named Serg, bit Rose on the arm and had to be pulled off.
In an interview with NBC4, Attorney General Dave Yost described his reaction to the incident as “horror.”
“There’s nothing about that that looked right,” Yost said. “The dog shouldn’t have been out of the car, shouldn’t have been off the leash, and should have been able to be stopped by a simple command. Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. And it was attributable to the lousy judgment of that cop.”
Yost said because the Ohio State Highway Patrol was the lead agency on the scene, officers and deputies from other agencies should have obeyed their instructions.
On Tuesday, Governor Mike DeWine told NBC4 he would speak to lawmakers about creating a training facility available to all Ohio law enforcement officers.
“This incident in Circleville should be a lesson– a wake-up call to everyone — that police training in the state of Ohio is not equal. It needs to be equal,” the governor said.
Asked if he agreed with that initiative, Yost said, “Respectfully, we do have a facility, we do have uniform standards. The canine program has a series of standards as well as an independent evaluation. That is the same for every single agency across the state. This isn’t a training failure. This was a judgment failure.”
Records kept by the Attorney General’s office show Speakman and Serg’s certifications are current through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.
Circleville Police Department Chief Shawn Baer has not answered questions, but said in a statement Wednesday that Speakman’s conduct was not up to standards. The statement also said Serg and other Circleville K9s would be sent back to training for additional evaluation.
Yost said he has not spoken to Baer, nor has the city invited his office to conduct a review.
“I think there is a credible question of whether (Speakman) is liable for a criminal charge and assault. I don’t know that he is, but that’s something that needs to be thoroughly examined,” Yost said. “The case needs to be worked up and reviewed by the prosecutor, and I’m confident that it will be.”
An automated email response from the Pickaway County Prosecutor stated she was out of the office until Monday.
The Ohio Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, the union representing Circleville police officers, filed a grievance on Speakman’s behalf Tuesday afternoon alleging the officer was fired without just cause. The attorney who filed the grievance did not immediately respond to a voicemail from NBC4 asking for additional details.
Rose, who is facing a charge stemming from the chase, retained notable civil rights attorney Ben Crump.