Parker Surbrook, a Michigan State Police trooper charged with assault for not recalling his police dog while a suspect lay injured on the ground has been acquitted by a jury.
The incident took place in Lansing in 2020, where prosecutors alleged that trooper Parker Surbrook’s K-9 partner, Knox, attacked and tugged on Robert Gilliam for an extended period. According to reports, Gilliam was immobilized due to a broken hip. Gilliam pleaded with the trooper to intervene and remove the dog.
Trooper Surbrook’s defense attorney, Patrick O’Keefe, asserted that his client was adhering to his training protocols, waiting for additional officers to arrive. Characterizing the situation as one of high stress and potential danger, during his testimony, Surbrook stood by his actions stating, “You can second-guess what I did, but I know what my dog did. He was protecting me.”
Following a three-day trial in Ingham County, Surbrook was acquitted of the felony assault charge on a Tuesday, as reported by the Lansing State Journal.
The chain of events leading to this incident began when Gilliam, pursued by Surbrook, engaged in a high-speed chase, according to AP. After suspecting he was being targeted for carrying a firearm outside a liquor store, Gilliam, citing parole status in another state and fearing repercussions, crashed the vehicle while attempting to navigate into an apartment complex.
Surbrook and his canine partner arrived at the scene, with the trooper instructing the dog to maintain its presence, as captured in video footage.
“Yes, he fled. Yes, he committed a felony,” said Kristen Rolph, the assistant prosecutor while addressing the jury. She went on to emphasize that these actions do not warrant the treatment Gilliam received.
A pending civil lawsuit against the state and Surbrook is underway in federal court.
Police officers using K-9 units on Black motorists isn’t a one-off.
An Ohio police officer was recently fired after he released a police dog on an unarmed Black man who was in the process of surrendering earlier this month.
Officer Ryan Speakman was “terminated” from the Circleville Police Department “effective immediately,” according to a press release from the department located in suburban Columbus.
Strangely enough, while the Circleville Police Department said Speakman “did not meet the standards and expectations we hold for our police officers,” its press release also noted the Circleville Police Use of Force Review Board determined that “the department’s policy for the use of canines was followed in the apprehension and arrest.”
The press release also rebuffed Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s comments about the department needing more training, saying in part that “we meet or exceed all current Ohio laws and standards for police training for our canine teams.”
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