Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Family questions use of police K9 that attacked minor who was running from officers

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BATON ROUGE - The family of a teenager is questioning the use of a BRPD K-9 and calling the deployment of the dog excessive force.

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The teen, who is in eighth grade, was going for a joy ride with friends when he says a number of police got behind him. He was riding in the back seat, and when police got behind them they all took off running. They ditched the car near Plank Road and Monte Sano Park. That's when a lawyer representing the family and the teen's mother say the Baton Rouge Police Department unleashed a K-9 on him.

"I'm not going to make excuses for what he did," said, D'Ana Brown, the teen's mother. "I can't vouch for what he did. Children make mistakes, and I'm not taking up for him. Why would you let the dog go on him?"

The teen's legs are riddled with holes. Her son joins a growing list of juveniles attacked by Baton Rouge Police dogs. In 2021, an investigation by journalism non-profit The Marshall Project uncovered Baton Rouge is unique compared to other police departments around the country when it comes to how frequently they use dogs to control people. The Marshall Project noted between 2017 and 2019, Baton Rouge Police dogs bit 146 people.

Nearly a third of them were under the age of 17. Nearly all of them were Black. In nearly all of the cases, the kids were not carrying weapons. Almost all were involved in non-violent crimes like driving a stolen vehicle or burglary.

"Running is not a death sentence," said Ron Haley, the lawyer representing the family. "Running does not give police carte blanche to do whatever they want to you. It damn sure doesn't give police the right to snack on a kid's flesh."

Now, there's a call to review the use of police dogs after Haley says his client was attacked last week in what appears to be a pattern at the Baton Rouge Police Department.

"For the public out there saying the law says you can use K9's, or he shouldn't have run and he got what was coming to him, it's not just the fact that this K9 was used... after the apprehension it was used excessively for pain compliance," Haley said.

The investigation by The Marshall Project found Baton Rouge Police had the second highest per capita rate of dogs biting suspects out of the cities they examined nationwide. The juvenile who was bitten was released from juvenile jail on a sign-out bond. He is expected to appear in court Monday, but because this is a juvenile matter, details surrounding his charges were not released.

Baton Rouge Police said they were checking into this particular incident, but the agency did not get back to us by news time.


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