White Cops Allow Dog to Bite Black Man, Prompting Comparison to Pre-Civil Rights Days

An incident caught on cellphone video showed white police officers appearing to allow a police dog to repeatedly bite a Black man during a Monday arrest in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, the Associated Press reported.

The circulating footage triggered outrage online and even prompted the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to publish an editorial comparing it to actions in pre-civil-rights Alabama.

The editorial said that the incident "bears all the hallmarks of cops deciding to issue their personal form of street justice," rather than allowing courts to administer justice themselves. It also said that allowing the dog to attack the man was "just like Birmingham's infamous public safety chief, Bull Connor, did in the 1960s to deter Blacks from marching for equal rights."

The incident occurred in the small city of Woodson Terrace, and all three of the police officers seen in the video are white. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell announced in a statement that his office was aware of the video and pledged to make a thorough review of the incident" but did not offer any more details.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Police Dog
An incident caught on cellphone video showed white police officers appearing to allow a police dog to repeatedly bite a Black man during a Monday arrest in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Above, a U.S. Capitol Police K-9 unit officer checks a bus waiting to enter the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2021. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Officers in Woodson Terrace, a city of about 4,000 people near St. Louis Lambert International Airport, were advised at 7:18 a.m. Monday that a man had broken into a business. Police said in a Facebook post that the man appeared to be on drugs, had threatened to kill officers, and had tried to walk away from them and into rush-hour traffic. The department didn't release the man's name.

It said officers tried to arrest the man but he resisted, prompting a warning that the police dog would be used if he failed to cooperate. When the man continued to resist, causing minor injuries to one officer, the dog was deployed, the department wrote.

The cellphone video shows the dog biting the man's foot as he yells out in pain. The dog's handler holds it by a leash but allows the biting to go on for about 30 seconds.

After the officer pulls off the dog, the man appears to take a step to run but stumbles, and the dog lunges at him again, this time biting a leg for another 30 seconds until the officer stops the animal. Officers then handcuff the man, who seems to be barely able to walk as he is led to a squad car.

The police department said in its Facebook post that an ambulance was sent to the scene but the man refused medical treatment. However, it says he later complained about his injuries and was treated at a hospital, but it didn't release details about the severity of his injuries.

Police said a substance believed to be methamphetamine was found on the man. He has not yet been charged and was released from police custody, police said.

Woodson Terrace's mayor didn't respond to an email message seeking further information. Police did not respond to phone messages.

K-9 Search at Capitol
The circulating footage of white police officers appearing to allow a police dog to repeatedly bite a Black man during an arrest triggered outrage online. Above, a Capitol Police officer and his K-9 search the east front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 16, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Samuel Corum/Getty Images