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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

‘I can’t see’: Gainesville Police Department release graphic K-9 mauling body camera footage, officers suspended

The K-9 that attacked the man will rejoin the force after training

<p>Terrell Bradley sits at a police advisory council meeting Wednesday, July 27, 2022.</p><p></p>

Terrell Bradley sits at a police advisory council meeting Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

Editors Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence. 

Terrell Bradley could barely see — his right eye protruding from his socket — as Gainesville Police Department officers shouted for him to put his hands behind his back. The police K-9 who mauled him finally let go.

“I can’t open my f-----g eye,” Bradley cried.

“You can stand,” one officer said. “Your legs work.”

GPD showed never-before-seen body camera footage at a Thursday press conference about its K-9 encounter with 31-year-old Terrell Bradley, who was stopped for an alleged traffic violation July 10 and then fled from the officer after allegedly striking him with his elbow.

The graphic footage shows the incident between officers and Bradley as the police dog finds him, attacks him and is pulled away. Officers are seen going through with the arrest as Bradley shouts and groans. They continued to struggle, pulling him up.

Bradley lost his eye after he was mauled by the K-9 in an incident that sparked widespread community outrage. GPD Chief Lonnie Scott said two officers were suspended Thursday with pay pending an investigation because of the incident. He declined to name them, but said the review will be completed within two weeks.

The officers were suspended for comments made after Bradley’s arrest and after an internal investigation revealed they took pictures during the arrest, TV20 reported.

An internal investigation of the situation is ongoing. Scott said in the video shown during the press conference that GPD hired an outside consultant, V2 Global, to also review the situation and GPD’s K-9 policy.

The agency’s report said the traffic stop, response to resistance, search and use of the police K-9 to apprehend Bradley was in compliance with GPD policy and law enforcement industry standards for the use of K-9s.

Though the police dog was “off the road for a while,” Scott said it’ll return to duty in a couple of weeks after receiving more training.

Officers also explained the steps taken in the traffic stop and subsequent K-9 deployment in a pre-recorded video.

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Bradley, a Black Gainesville resident, faces four counts for weapon possession and resisting law enforcement.

Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit signaled its intent to prosecute Bradley on these counts Wednesday. These charges include possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, carrying a concealed firearm, battering an officer and a separate one for resisting arrest.

These charges come after a process of the prosecutor reviewing evidence and interviewing the GPD officers who were involved in the arrest, said Darry Lloyd, a state attorney’s office spokesperson.

Agencies typically file charges, he said, then prosecutors assess the charges based on the state constitution and statute. The next stage of the arrest is the formal information or filing of charges by the prosecutor, Lloyd explained. These charges then get presented to Bradley’s lawyer, Curtis Lee, and will finally go into litigation in court, he said.

The two investigations — V2 Global’s and GPD’s — have no impact on this prosecution process, Lloyd said.

“Ultimately, it’s the prosecutor’s job to determine whether we’re moving forward based on the law,” Lloyd said.

Bradley was pulled over by GPD after turning out of Sweetwater Square apartments without yielding to traffic, Cpl. Joseph Castor said in the conference video.

Despite Officer Andrew Milman’s original sworn complaint claiming he pulled Bradley over because he ran a stop sign, Scott confirmed there wasn’t one at the intersection.

Bradley didn’t immediately stop when Milman activated his lights and siren, Castor said.

He turned into the Eden Park at Ironwood apartment complex and drove slowly, stopping near Building 2. Bodycam footage begins as an officer speaks to Bradley who was sitting in his car, window rolled down.

Milman said he saw a bag of marijuana on the center console and smelled the substance from the vehicle. The officer saw Bradley reach under his seat repeatedly and asked him to keep his hands in sight, Castor said in the conference video.

These hand movements cannot be seen in the footage because of the placement of the bodycam on the officer’s chest, Scott said during the conference.

Audio kicks in when the officer asks Bradley to step out of his car. There’s a moment where the officer is seen trying to put Bradley’s hands behind his back, and he tells officers they’re “making him nervous,” and that he didn’t do anything. Bradley struck the officer with his elbow, Castor said in the pre-recorded conference video.

Bradley then runs, and officers begin to chase him further into the complex.

A second clip of bodycam footage shows other officers searching Bradley’s car. They find a loaded handgun with an extended magazine between the driver’s seat and center console.

After checking Bradley’s driver’s license, officers confirmed he was a convicted felon and couldn’t legally own a gun. He also didn’t have a concealed weapons permit, and officers said they confirmed the gun was stolen.

Officers called the K-9 unit after learning of his criminal background and because he may have been armed. This unit “can only be deployed for criminal apprehensions for specific felony crimes,” according to GPD’s K-9 manual criteria.

The press conference video pointed out the manual says the “K-9 is authorized to track for any felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.”

K-9 force should be used only when necessary, according to the manual, and K-9 officers will “utilize all reasonable means to affect apprehension without incurring a bite.”

The K-9 unit arrived 38 minutes after Bradley ran away from police. Bradley was hidden in bushes along one building in the complex while officers surrounded him.

Bodycam footage from K-9 officer Josh Meurer shows the dog on a 15-foot leash searching for Bradley. It runs around between bushes and air conditioning units, finding him in under a minute, the footage shows.

Growls from the dog and shouts from Bradley are heard almost immediately.

“The dog’s not coming after you,” Meurer said. “Come out to me!”

“He’s got me bro,” Bradley said. “I’m done.”

The footage shows Bradley pleading with officers to remove the dog. The K-9 officer asks a colleague to step in. Bradley can be seen clutching his eye as the police dog continues gripping onto his hand with his teeth. Another officer holds onto Bradley, while they pull on the dog’s leash and use a Breaker Bar K-9 release tool to get the dog to release its bite.

“He got my finger,” Bradley shouted between screams. “He ripped my finger.”

Officers instruct Bradley to put his hands behind his back. Bradley’s bloodied hand can be seen in the video.

“Your dog ripped my eye out bro,” he said.

The group of officers then called Emergency Medical Services, and two officers are in frame putting Bradley in handcuffs.

“We need to get EMS now,” one officer said. “His eye is out.”

One officer asked Bradley to roll onto his side. But Bradley said he couldn't.

Officers direct Bradley to stand and help him up. They lead him away from the bushes and to the parking lot to wait for the ambulance, telling him to sit.

“I can’t see,” he said, panicked.

As officers help him sit on the sidewalk, the bodycam points down on Bradley, showing his eye out of his bloodied socket.

Officers and Bradley wait for the ambulance.

“Breathe, relax,” one officer said. “EMS is coming.”

Castor said officers helped keep Bradley upright and conscious. One officer tells Bradley to rest his head on his leg. Bradley lays back on the officer’s leg and drinks water provided by an officer.

The officers put Bradley on a stretcher, and the entire right side of his face is drenched in blood. Bradley was transferred to UF Health Shands Hospital for treatment and then to a specialty hospital in Tampa.

“Ensuring Bradley got immediate medical attention was the highest priority of the officers on scene,” Castor said in the pre-recorded video.

In 2021, the GPD K-9 unit, consisting of five dogs, was deployed 129 times, according to the video shown. Twelve of those times resulted in a bite.

“We’re well below 25%,” Scott said. “Don’t take my word for it — go to the people in the industry, find out what the standard is. But I think that’s a low bite ratio to have.”

Bradley initially faced charges in the direct aftermath of the incident, and a judge approved his conditional release from the Alachua County Jail July 19.

The K-9 mauling of Bradley sparked community protests and calls for police accountability. Scott released a July 22 statement announcing the investigation that could have taken up to 90 days.

During a July 27 police advisory council meeting with community members angered by the incident, Scott said he couldn’t comment on the incident because the investigation was ongoing but said “appropriate action” would be taken if video footage of the police encounter with Bradley revealed misconduct.

The conduct that caused him to suspend the two officers didn’t completely have to do with Bradley’s arrest, Scott said. The results of the internal investigation will be made public within the next two weeks, he said.

Contact Lucille Lannigan at Follow her on Twitter @LucilleLannigan.

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Lucille Lannigan

Lucy is a senior journalism major and the metro editor for The Alligator. She has previously served as a news assistant and the East Gainesville reporter for the metro desk as well as the health and environment reporter on the university desk. When she’s not doing journalism you can find her painting or spending time outside.

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