Chants for justice filled the air Sunday evening as protestors lined downtown Gainesville to protest the police K-9 mauling of Terrell Bradley July 10.
About 200 people gathered at the Santa Fe Blount Center, located at 401 NW 6th St., to demonstrate their anger and demand change after a Gainesville Police Department K-9 allegedly mutilated Bradley’s eye.
Bradley, a 30-year-old Gainesville resident, faces charges from Alachua County for weapon and drug possession and violent resistance of an officer.
Bradley’s encounter with law enforcement July 10 evening began as he left the Sweetwater Square Apartments complex, located at 3501 NE 15th St., and committed a traffic violation, according to a statement from the Gainesville Police Department released Saturday night.
Bradley exited his vehicle, as requested by the officer, but then took off running, according to the GPD statement. Law enforcement found a stolen gun and ammunition in Bradley’s vehicle.
Back-up units, including a K-9 officer, participated in the search for Bradley, and he was found hiding in the bushes after about an hour of tracking aid from a police dog. The K-9 unit was summoned because of Bradley’s status as a firearm possession as a convicted felon, according to the statement. Alachua County court records show Bradley was convicted of robbery in 2010; he was also convicted of drug equipment possession in 2012 and 2015.
He was booked into a Hillsborough County jail on Wednesday after he was transported to Tampa due to the severity of his injuries, according to an Instagram post by Danielle Chanzes, a local community organizer who facilitated Sunday’s march. The post garnered more than 1400 likes and 110 comments.
The GPD statement confirmed Bradley was taken to the hospital by EMS, and, according to Chanzes’ post he lost his eye at the hospital. She also wrote Bradley suffered other injuries including broken fingers and spinal leakage.
Protestors, some wearing shirts depicting Bradley’s bloodied eye socket, marched down Northwest 6th Street to the GPD building located about a half mile north of the Blount Center. As demonstrators of all ages marched, they chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Whose streets? Our streets.” Protestors blocked the intersection of Northwest 8th Avenue and Northwest 6th Street as they demanded police accountability.
Victor Bradley, Terrell’s father and 60-year-old lifelong Gainesville resident, only saw K-9s used against Black males when he served in the police department in the 1990s. Officers need to be held more accountable when their dogs act violently, he said, and people should be more involved in local politics and the police department.
He said his son was in good spirits and was not bitter about the incident, but Ashley Burke, Bradley’s cousin and 33-year old Gainesville resident, suggested the charges against him be dropped because of how much he’s suffered from the K-9 mauling.
“He’s lost enough,” she said. “He lost an entire eye when it wasn’t even necessary. I feel like they punished him in just doing that. You’re gonna mutilate him, take his eye and then turn around and try to punish him with jail time or anything else? That’s not right.”
Although GPD’s statement acknowledged members of the community may feel disturbed by Bradley’s injuries, it does not expand on the nature of what occurred; it simply says the K-9 apprehended Bradley. K-9 handlers are expected to be judicious in their use of the dogs, according to GDP guidelines regarding the use of K-9’s in apprehensions.
“Canine force shall be utilized only when necessary,” a section reads. “Handlers will utilize all reasonable means to affect apprehension, without incurring a bite.”
The guidelines further state handlers should consider the severity of the crime and the threat level posed to law enforcement when deciding whether to use K-9s in apprehensions.
“Police K-9s will normally be released to make apprehensions only in forcible felony cases … where the suspect continues to resist arrest and because of the seriousness of the crime, poses a danger to others, and when no lesser means of apprehension are practical,” according to the guidelines.
“Forcible felony” is a legal term that encompasses a broad range of offenses from murder to sexual battery to burglary and other crimes as listed in the guidelines.
The guidelines also allow for the use of K-9s in cases where violence is feared, such as cases of drug possession or sales where the suspect possesses a weapon or has a known history of violence. Another example given is of a suspect who flees from law enforcement at a speed that puts others at risk.
An Eden Park resident who wished to remain anonymous said residents gathered around the area as Bradley screamed during the K-9 assault. After the incident, she started a Facebook live video and said he was in severe pain.
The severity of Bradley’s injuries raises questions about law enforcement’s deployment of the K-9 and the extent to which he may have been abused by Gainesville police.
GPD Chief Lonnie Scott asked for a review of the incident to be completed within the next week to 10 days, according to the police department’s statement.
Jackson Reyes contributed to this report.
Omar Ateyah is a third-year journalism student and the Alligator's Race and Equity reporter. He previously served as the Alligator's crime reporter and as a news assistant on the Metro Desk. He enjoys going on long, thoughtful walks.