Records shed light on why K-9 officer fired after dog taunts truck driver: Report

The firing of an Ohio K-9 officer was not because he whipped his police dog at an unarmed black truck driver who surrendered with his hands up after a highway chase, according to records released to ABC News.

The reason former officer Ryan Speakman was fired from the Circleville, Ohio, Police Department last week is because he allegedly lied to his superiors about who he shared confidential details of the incident with, according to newly released documents.

The documents, released by Circleville’s city code director in response to a public records request by ABC News, indicate that Speakman was an emotional wreck after the police dog mauling of 23-year-old Jadarrius Rose and cried repeatedly at work. He was also upset with a local newspaper that published the first report of his involvement in the July 4 arrest.

Circleville Police Chief Shawn Baer revealed in a July 25 written report that at one point Speakman came to him “crying and very upset,” concerned that he was going to take his K-9 partner, Serge — a 4-year-old Belgian malinois shepherd mix.

“He asked me not to take his best friend away from him,” Baer wrote, according to the report. “I told him we hadn’t taken K-9 Serge from him and that he was scheduled to go to training. I told him again, if you haven’t done anything wrong, we wouldn’t take (the) K- 9 from Hi M.”

According to the documents, Baer said he also told Speakman, “The audit committee had met and everything appeared that the implementation was within guidelines and training guidelines.”

The review board met on July 6, two days after the incident, which started when state police tried to pull Rose over for a missing mud flap on his trailer.

Baer said he received a report from the chairman of that use of force board, acting Capt. Kenny Fisher of the Circleville Police Department, who wrote: “The board concluded that all personnel involved acted within the department’s use of force and canine operations policy.”

Fit-for-duty review ordered

When Circleville officials announced Wednesday that Speakman had been immediately fired, Baer issued a statement saying, “Circleville Police Officer Ryan Speakman’s actions during the review of his canine apprehension of suspect Jadarrius Rose on July 4th demonstrate that Officer Speakman did not meet the standards and expectations we have for our police officers.”

Now, the records released by the city’s law director detail the circumstances surrounding the alleged conduct during the review.

The recently released plates, first reported by Scioto Valley Guardian newspaper, Speakman was terminated for “unauthorized and improper knowing release of confidential or proprietary information,” disobeying orders from his superiors not to discuss the incident with anyone but investigators, and for lying to Baer as well as investigators he spoke with in the days after the dog attack.

In his July 25 report, Baer wrote that he initially placed Speakman on paid administrative leave “pending a suitability assessment.”

In the document, Baer said he met with Speakman on July 19 — 15 days after the dog attack — and spoke with him “about reports I received of him crying and talking to other employees about being stressed about the 4th. July 2023. , K-9 deployment.”

During a meeting that was also attended by the police department’s deputy chief and director of human resources, Baer ordered Speakman to stop talking to people about the incident, according to the records.

“I explained to him that his behavior was not in the best interest of himself or the agency,” Baer wrote.

Baer said that when he asked Speakman who he had spoken to about the K-9 deployment, the officer initially replied that he had only spoken to a few Circleville Police Department (CPD) employees and no one outside the agency.

The chief wrote in his report that even after ordering Speakman to remain silent about the incident, “Speakman continued to approach CPD officers upset and crying.”

‘You will be bitten’

According to the records, Baer said he ordered Speakman to give him a written list of all the people he spoke to about the incident. The chief wrote that “on July 21, Ryan Speakman brought in a two-page list of people outside of CPD that he had spoken to,” and that a day later gave him two more names.

Baer, ​​according to the records, described Speakman as being “deceptive” about his initial claims about who he had spoken to about the dog dispatch.

“Ryan Speakman discussed so much information with so many people that it had tremendous potential to affect the (use of force review) board’s ability to provide an accurate review,” Baer wrote.

The records released by Circleville’s city code director also included Speakman’s body camera footage that captured the officer throwing his K-9 Serge at Rose immediately after arriving on the scene and issuing verbal warnings to Rose to drop to his knees.

Other body camera footage released earlier by the Ohio State Highway Police shows that when Speakman ordered Rose to get on his knees, a state trooper ordered Rose to walk toward him and another trooper repeatedly yelled at Speakman, “Don’t let go of the dog with your hands up .”

Speakman’s body camera footage shows the officer arriving on the scene yelling at Rose from a distance, saying, “Get on the f—— ground or I’ll send the dog.” As Rose, hands up, continued to walk toward the trooper, instructing him to move forward, Speakman warned Rose once more, “Police K-9. You’re going to be bitten.”

“Last chance. You’re going to get bit,” Speakman yelled, according to his body camera footage, before unleashing the dog on Rose.

The body camera video shows the dog initially running toward the trooper and giving instructions to Rose, then turning and charging in Rose’s direction when Speakman ordered him to attack.

The video shows Rose falling to his knees with his hands up before the dog sank its teeth into his left arm, causing Rose to scream in pain.

In an interview Thursday, Rose told ABC News that when he saw the K-9 officer and his dog racing across the grassy center line toward him, “he didn’t know what to do.”

“So I just stopped because I didn’t want to make a bad move or anything like that,” Rose said.

He added: “I was defenseless. If I would have tried to defend myself it would have given them more reason to shoot me. I just wanted my life.”

Rose said that even after the police dog latched onto his arm, Speakman or other police officers did not appear to be in a hurry to get the animal away from him. He said he directly pleaded with the dog to let him go.

“I had to tell the dog to stop,” Rose said. “I asked the dog, ‘Please stop. It hurts,’ and he finally let go.”

‘I think it’s a justified bite’

Immediately after the incident, as officers tried to tie Rose’s arm, Speakman appeared to try to justify his actions when Rose asked why he turned the dog loose on him, according to Speakman’s body camera footage.

“I gave you three warnings. Didn’t I? You didn’t comply, so you got the dog,” Speakman said, according to the video.

The footage also captured Speakman telling another officer at the scene: “I think it’s a justified bite.”

In his written account of the incident, contained in the records released to ABC News, Speakman reiterated that he gave Rose three warnings and then “made the decision to deploy K-9 Serge off-leash in the suspect’s direction.” He did not mention whether he heard the soldier order him not to release the dog while Rose’s hands were in the air.

Rose’s encounter with the police dog came after he led state troopers on a three-county chase, officials said. The pursuit unfolded when Ohio State Highway Police attempted to pull Rose over for missing a fender on his trailer, according to an incident report.

Rose told ABC News that he initially stopped but then pulled away when he saw officers approaching his semi-truck with their guns drawn.

He said he called 911 during a more than 20-mile chase because he was “hoping they would be able to help me.”

“I wanted to get out. I hadn’t committed a crime. It’s not like I murdered somebody and they got their guns ready to shoot me,” Rose said. “I just didn’t want to die. That’s what went through my head. I just didn’t want to die. That’s why I called them for help.”

Rose was forced to stop when police put spike strips in front of his big rig and blew out his tires, authorities said.

After being attacked by the dog, Rose was treated at a hospital and later booked into the Ross County Jail on charges of failure to comply, a fourth-degree felony. The charges have not been dismissed, according to National Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Rose.

Efforts by ABC News to reach Speakman for comment were unsuccessful.

Prior disciplinary proceedings against Speakman

The records released by the city court director also included documents from a previous incident in which Rose was disciplined.

In April 2021, Speakman received a one-day suspension without pay after he was the subject of an internal affairs investigation for “horseplay,” according to the records. Officials said Speakman admitted to approaching another Circleville officer on Feb. 27, 2021, at the police station, grabbing the officer’s gun from his holster and emptying it of bullets, an act police described as “muzzling” the officer.

“Speakman stated that he took full responsibility for his actions and that it was a stupid thing to do,” according to the records.

Tom Austin, executive director of the Ohio Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, said in a statement released Wednesday after the announcement of Speakman’s firing that the union’s senior attorney, Joseph Hegedus, has filed an official complaint with the city of Circleville alleging the officer was terminated ” without just because.”

In the complaint, Hegedus wrote that the officer’s firing is “contrary to mandatory principles of progressive discipline” and is a violation of the union’s collective bargaining agreement. The complaint asked that Speakman’s termination be vacated and that he be reimbursed for “lost wages, seniority and benefits.”

Hegedus also asked that Speakman’s resignation be expunged from his personnel records.

A central Ohio Black Lives Matter group held a small, rowdy protest outside the Circleville Police Department on Saturday, calling on Baer to resign or be fired for his handling of the incident involving Rose, because the dog that attacked Rose, should retire and that all charges against Rose be dropped. The organization also asked that all Circleville police officers be offered racial sensitivity training and that the police department’s budget be cut by 50%.

Bear could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Crump told ABC News that the incident harkened back to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, when police dogs were unleashed on nonviolent protesters.

“We have to say, we will not tolerate this,” Crump said. “We will not go back to the days of taunting dogs on unarmed black people.”

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