Police K-9, traffic stop

Driver Speaks Out About K-9 Attack During Traffic Stop, NAACP Calls For Police Accountability

Attack victim Brandon Upchurch says that Toledo police officers stopped the wrong vehicle.

Brandon Upchurch, a 39-year-old man who alleges that he was bitten multiple times by a police K-9 unit from the Toledo Police Department during a traffic stop on April 11, has spoken out about the injuries he sustained as a result of the incident. Furthermore, Upchurch says that the officers should not have even stopped his vehicle in the first place. 

As ABC News reports, Upchurch was driving his cousin home from work when officers pulled him over, alleging that Upchurch’s vehicle matched the description of a stolen vehicle. However, according to Upchurch, the officers did not follow the normal procedures of a traffic stop. “They instantly came out with the guns drawn,” he said. “They did not come to my car and ask me for license, insurance, etc., anything.”

According to the body cam footage, officers did ask Upchurch to exit the vehicle while he asked them why he was being stopped. As Upchurch stepped out of the car, officers instructed him to turn his back to them while he repeatedly asked the officers, “What am I stopped for?” They do not answer his question but instead demand that he get on the ground. While he is in the process of kneeling, an officer with a K-9 unit releases his police dog on Upchurch while he protests, “Man, I’m not even doing nothing,” Upchurch said, then repeatedly asked the officers, “What did I do?”

As he was being handcuffed, an officer informed him that the truck allegedly had a license plate belonging to a stolen vehicle, which Upchurch protested. He asked the officers for medical attention, which they assured him was coming, but allegedly, privately, amongst themselves, called Upchurch a “petulant child” for even requesting it. They also began to doubt that they had pulled over the right vehicle, and one officer could be heard saying, “Now I know it’s not the plate.”

Despite an admission that it was not the correct plate, the department still charged Upchurch with resisting arrest and obstruction. According to ABC News, the police report alleges that Upchurch ignored their commands and “refused to comply throughout the entirety of the event.” As the Toledo Blade reports, an internal investigation is being carried out, but the police department has not released any investigation details as of April 19. 

Upchurch told ABC News that the police mishandled the situation. “This is uncalled for over a stolen tag,” Upchurch said. “All they had to do was run the plates again and found out it wasn’t stolen. I have license, insurance, everything is clean with me. He even said it on his body cam that he messed up.”

The Toledo NAACP agrees with Upchurch’s version of events and has called for accountability for the police department’s actions. Rev. Willie Perryman III, the president of the Toledo branch of the NAACP, told the Toledo Blade, “Our police are here to serve, not to occupy our neighborhoods even when they believe a violation of the law has been committed.”

He continued, “We do count on our police to be fair and just when dealing with community members because, as in this case, officers can be misinformed. Incidents of this type not only set back any progress of positive community and police relations, but it demonstrates a glaring need for training.”

Reggie Williams, the executive director of the Frederick Douglass Center, echoed Perryman’s points, telling the outlet, “To see a dog being sicced on a man of color who was not violating anything, but requesting why he was being pulled over, and to see the footage, it was very hurtful, it was unacceptable.”

Williams continued, “We stand in unity, to demand justice to be done, and then also to look at ways to resolve police and community relations. We don’t want to go into the summer having more escalation of things that will not allow us to trust our TPD.”

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