An officer with the Salt Lake City Police Department was charged Wednesday with aggravated assault for ordering his dog to attack a black man who had his hands up.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office filed the charge against Officer Nickolas Pearce following a review of the April 24 incident that was first brought to light after the Salt Lake Tribune published body camera footage of the attack on 36-year-old Jeffery Ryans.
“[Ryans] wasn’t resisting arrest,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in explaining his decision, according to the Tribune.
“He certainly wasn’t posing an imminent threat of violence or harm to anyone and he certainly wasn’t concealed. He was fenced in an area and was being compliant,” said Gill.
The confrontation unfolded when police were called to Ryans’ home after his daughter called 911 to report her father was screaming at, and had hit, her mother, the report said.
Ryans was being arrested that night because his wife had filed a protective order last December against him that barred him from being at the home, the Tribune reported.
He reportedly faces domestic assault charges, but Ryans said his wife told him the order was lifted and that he had been living at the home for weeks before the arrest.
When police arrived, Ryans was in the backyard smoking a cigarette.
Pearce, one of the officers moving in to arrest Ryans, ordered him to “get on the ground or you’re going to get bit,” according to the recording.
As Ryans kneels to the ground with his hands up the officers get closer and the leashed dog, named Turco, begins biting and pulling at his left leg.
“I’m on the ground! Why are you biting me?!” Ryans yells in the clip.
Ryans begins shrieking in pain as the K9 officer in the encounter, Nickolas Pearce, praises the dog with “good boy” several times.
“Why are you guys — ow, what the f–k!? Holy s–t!” Ryans screams. “Why the f–k are you biting me!?”
Pearce had told the city’s Civilian Review Board, who found the officer violated policy during the arrest, that he ordered his dog to bite Ryans because he thought the man was getting into an upright position to fight, the Tribune reported.
But the board found that Ryans did not attempt to stand up or climb the fence, the report said.
California’s Bobcat wildfire among largest in LA history
California’s Bobcat fire is one of the largest blazes in the history of Los Angeles County — torching more than 103,000 acres and setting off a rare “firenado” captured on video.
As of Sunday, the fire had consumed 103,135 acres since breaking out over the Labor Day weekend, according to The Los Angeles Times.
That makes it comparable to the 1970 Clampitt fire that scorched some 105,000 acres and killed four people in the San Fernando Valley, the broadsheet reported.
The 2009 Station fire, the largest ever recorded in Los Angeles County, laid waste to 160,000 acres, killed two firefighters and destroyed over 200 structures, the report said.
Only 15 percent of the Bobcat fire is considered contained, and it added almost 20,000 acres to its path of destruction between Friday and Saturday alone, backed by strong winds.
“We’re still in the thick of a good firefight,” Andrew Mitchell, a spokesman for the US Forest Service, told the paper.
A weather-watcher on Saturday tweeted video of a “fire-nado” sweeping across the Big Pines Highway “throwing rocks and ash all around,” aided by those fierce winds.
The Bobcat blaze is one of dozens that thousands of firefighters have battled up and down the West Coast dating back to last month.
Massive fires have also ravaged Oregon to the north, sending thick plumes of smoke wafting as far away as Europe.
Belarus sees another massive protest after opposition leader detained
Tens of thousands of Belarusians calling for the president’s resignation marched through the capital Sunday as the country’s wave of protests entered its seventh week.
Hundreds of soldiers blocked off the center of Minsk, deploying water cannons and armored personnel carriers and erecting barbed-wire barriers. Protests also took place in several other cities, including Brest and Grodno. The crowd in Minsk included about 100,000 people, said Ales Bialiatski, head of the Viasna human rights organization. He said dozens of demonstrators were arrested in Minsk and Grodno.
Sunday’s protest comes after about 2,000 demonstrators, mostly women, marched through the streets of Minsk on Saturday. Hundreds, including Nina Bahinskaya, a 73-year-old great-grandmother who has become an icon of the protest movement, were detained and ushered into filled police vans, the BBC reported. Bahinskaya was taken to a police station but was later released.
Protests began Aug. 9 after an election that official results say gave President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in office; opponents and some poll workers say the results were manipulated.
Lukashenko, who has repressed opposition and independent news media during 26 years in power, has rejected suggestions of dialogue with the protesters. Many members of the Coordination Council formed by the opposition to push for a transition of power have been arrested or have fled the country.
The Minsk demonstrators on Sunday carried the red-and-white flags that were independent Belarus’ national standard before being replaced in 1995, early in Lukashenko’s tenure. Some bore placards depicting Lukashenko as a mustachioed cockroach.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s foreign minister on Friday warned Russia against interfering with Belarus’ sovereignty amid the civil unrest.
“It is heartbreaking to watch the footage of our close neighbors viciously beaten down and arbitrarily detained on the streets of their native cities,” Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told the UN Human Rights Council. “We warn the Russian Federation against taking steps that may lead to undermining political sovereignty of Belarus and thus destabilizing the wider region.”
Wendy Morton, the UK’s junior foreign minister, also called on foreign powers to enact sanctions against Belarusian authorities responsible for “fraudulent elections,” Reuters reported.
Although protests have taken place daily since the election, the Sunday gatherings in Minsk have been by far the largest, attracting crowds of as many as 200,000 people.
“Every Sunday, you are showing yourselves and the world that the Belarusian people are the power,” Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who was Lukashenko’s main election opponent, said in a video message from Lithuania, where she is in exile.
The marchers also carried portraits of Maria Kolesnikova, a top opposition figure who has been jailed for two weeks and is facing charges of undermining state security that could bring a five-year prison term. Kolesnikova has said security forces drove her to the border with Ukraine to try to make her leave the country, but that she tore up her passport so she couldn’t cross the border.
In a statement relayed by her lawyer on Sunday, Kolesnikova urged protesters to continue.
“Freedom is worth fighting for. Do not be afraid to be free,” she said. “I do not regret anything and would do the same again.”
Also Sunday, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova said an investigation has been opened into the release by hackers of the personal information of more than 1,000 employees of the ministry, which runs the police forces.
Syracuse doctor, 28, dies after COVID-19 battle, family says
A 28-year-old doctor from Syracuse has died after battling a serious bout of COVID-19 for more than two months, according to her family.
Dr. Adeline Fagan, who was completing her second year of residency as an OB-GYN in Houston, had become infected in July while doing a rotation treating coronavirus patients in the emergency room, Syracuse.com reported.
“That morning, she went into work feeling well and excited to see patients, but by the evening she began to feel under the weather,” her family wrote on a GoFundMe page. “What started as intense flu-like symptoms escalated within the week to a hospital stay.”
When her condition didn’t improve, she began an experimental drug and then was placed on a life-support device called an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO.
“Before we could see if this new drug was effective, her lungs could no longer support her,” her family wrote.
Fagan spent the last several weeks on a ventilator in the intensive care unit, where she was doing well before the family received the news over the weekend that she was suffering from a “massive brain bleed” and required emergency surgery.
“The doctor said they have seen this type of event in COVID patients that spend time on ECMO,” they added.
Her family was told that she had a “1 in a million” chance of making it through the procedure and that even if she survived, she would have several severe cognitive and sensory problems.
“We spent the remaining minutes hugging, comforting, and talking to Adeline,” the family wrote. “And then the world stopped.”
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