CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio – A routine drive through rural Ohio turned into a nightmare for Jadarrius Rose when an unnoticed missing mudflap on his 18-wheeler caught the attention of the highway patrol. His encounter with the police ended in a harrowing K-9 attack, even as he attempted to surrender.
In the disturbing sequence of events that unfolded on July 4, Rose found himself standing with his hands raised beside the highway. At least six law enforcement officers encircled him, maintaining a distance. One officer’s stern command to the K-9 handler was captured on highway patrol video: “Do not release the dog.”
Despite the instructions, the video shows a Belgian Malinois either breaking free or being deliberately set loose. Initially, the dog appeared disoriented, dashing past Rose toward other officers at the far end of the truck. Moments later, it abruptly changed course, sprinting back towards Rose, who, by that time, was on his knees with his hands still held high. An officer can be heard urgently shouting, “Get the dog off of him!”
This incident added Jadarrius Rose to the long list of Black Americans who have been subjected to police K-9 attacks, a grim history well-documented by journalists, scholars, and filmmakers. Recent years have witnessed multiple investigations into such cases, shedding light on the controversy surrounding the use of police dogs.
Concerns regarding K-9 attacks have gained nationwide attention and ignited a larger conversation about the application of force by law enforcement officers. These incidents have resonated with an unsettling history, reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement, when dogs were frequently employed to suppress peaceful Black protesters advocating for equality.
The Associated Press captured a similar incident in a photograph from Birmingham, Alabama, dating back to the spring of 1963. The image portrays two police officers releasing K-9s on a 15-year-old named Walter Gadsden, with one dog lunging directly at the teenager’s abdomen, while the other strained at its leash.
Over the past five years, controversial police K-9 attacks have generated headlines across the United States. The Ohio State Highway Patrol, for instance, employed drug dogs in 28% of its interactions with Black motorists from 2013 to 2017, despite the Black population accounting for just approximately 11.5% of eligible drivers in the state, according to records reviewed by the AP in 2018.
Instances like the suspension of the Salt Lake City police department’s dog apprehension program in 2020 following a Black man’s dog bite and a subsequent audit revealing 27 dog bite cases in the prior two years further highlight the controversy surrounding these incidents.
The recent case in Circleville, Ohio, has rekindled the debate about the use of police K-9s and serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing struggle for justice and equality within the nation.
As investigations continue, this incident emphasizes the urgent need to reevaluate and address concerns surrounding the use of force by law enforcement officers. It underscores the necessity of ensuring the safety and equitable treatment of all individuals, regardless of their racial or ethnic background.