(CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio) — The firing of an Ohio K-9 officer was not due to him siccing his police dog on an unarmed Black truck driver who surrendered with his hands up following a highway chase, according records officials released to ABC News.
The reason former officer Ryan Speakman was terminated from the Circleville, Ohio, Police Department last week is because he allegedly lied to his superiors about whom he shared confidential details of the incident with, according to the newly released documents.
The documents, released by the Circleville city law director in response to a public records request from ABC News, indicate Speakman was an emotional wreck following the police dog mauling of 23-year-old Jadarrius Rose and was repeatedly crying at work. He was also upset a local newspaper published the initial report of his involvement in the July 4 arrest.
Circleville Police Chief Shawn Baer disclosed in a July 25 written report that at one point Speakman came to him “crying and very upset,” concerned that he was going to take away his K-9 partner, Serge — a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois Shepherd mix.
“He was begging I do not take his best friend from him,” Baer wrote, according to the report. “I told him that we had not taken K-9 Serge from him and that he was scheduled to go to training. I told him again, if you haven’t done anything wrong, we would not take (the) K-9 from him.”
Baer, according to the documents, said he also told Speakman, “The review board had convened, and everything appeared that the deployment was within policy and training guidelines.”
The review board met on July 6, two days after the incident, which started when state police troopers attempted to pull Rose over for a missing mudflap on his trailer.
Baer said he received a report from the chairman for this use-of-force review board, acting Capt. Kenny Fisher of the Circleville Police Department, who wrote, “The board concluded that all personnel involved acted within departmental policy regarding the use of force and canine operations policy.”
Fit-for-duty review ordered
When Circleville officials announced on Wednesday that Speakman had been immediately terminated, Baer, issued a statement, saying, “Circleville police officer Ryan Speakman’s actions during the review of his canine apprehension of suspect Jadarrius Rose on July 4 show that officer Speakman did not meet the standards and expectations we hold for our police officers.”
Now, the records released by the city’s law director detail the circumstances of the alleged conduct during the review.
The newly released records, first reported by the Scioto Valley Guardian newspaper, show Speakman was terminated for “unauthorized and inappropriate intentional release of confidential or protected information,” disobeying orders from his superiors not to discuss the incident with anyone other than investigators and for lying to Baer as well as investigators about whom he spoke to in the days after the dog attack.
In his July 25 report, Baer wrote that he initially placed Speakman on paid administrative leave “pending a fit-for-duty review.”
In the document, Baer said he met with Speakman on July 19 — 15 days after the dog attack — and spoke to him “about reports I received that he was crying and talking to other employees about being stressed over the July 4, 2023, K-9 deployment.”
During a meeting, which was also attended by the police department’s deputy chief and human resources director, Baer ordered Speakman to stop talking to people about the incident, according to the records.
“I explained to him that his conduct was not beneficial to himself or the agency,” Baer wrote.
Baer said when he asked Speakman who he had spoken to about the K-9 deployment, the officer initially replied he had only spoken to a few employees of the Circleville Police Department (CPD) and no one outside the agency.
The chief wrote in his report that even after ordering Speakman to keep quiet about the incident, Speakman “continued to approach CPD employees upset and crying.”
‘You’re going to get bit’
Baer said he ordered Speakman to give him a written list of all the people he spoke to about the incident, the records state. The chief wrote that on July 21, “Ryan Speakman brought a two-page list of people outside of CPD that he had spoken with” and that a day later gave him two additional names.
Baer, according to the records, described Speakman as being “deceptive” about his initial claims of who he had spoken to about the dog deployment.
“Ryan Speakman discussed so much information with so many people it had immense potential to impact the (use-of-force review) board’s ability to provide an accurate review,” Baer wrote.
The records released by the Circleville city law director also included Speakman’s body camera footage that captured the officer siccing his K-9 Serge on Rose immediately after arriving on the scene and issuing verbal warnings to Rose to drop to his knees.
Other body camera footage released earlier by the Ohio State Highway Police shows that as Speakman was commanding Rose to get on his knees, a state trooper was ordering Rose to walk toward him and another trooper was repeatedly yelling at Speakman, “Do not release the dog with his hands up.”
Speakman’s body camera footage shows the officer arriving at the scene and yelling at Rose from a distance, saying, “Get on the f—— ground or I’m going to send the dog.” As Rose, with his hands up, continued to walk in the direction of the trooper instructing him to move forward, Speakman warned Rose a second time, “Police K-9. You’re going to get bit.”
“Final chance. You’re going to get bit,” Speakman yelled, according to his body camera footage, before he released the dog on Rose.
The body camera video shows the dog initially running toward the trooper giving instructions to Rose, and then turning and charging in Rose’s direction when Speakman ordered him to attack.
The video shows Rose falling to his knees with his hands up before the dog sunk his teeth into his left arm, prompting Rose to scream out in agony.
In an interview on Thursday, Rose told ABC News that when he saw the K-9 officer and his dog racing across the grassy center median toward him, he “didn’t know what to do.”
“So, I just stopped because I didn’t want to make a bad move or anything like that,” Rose said.
He added, “I was defenseless. If I would have tried to defend myself, that would have given them more reason to shoot me. I just wanted my life.”
Rose said that even after the police dog latched onto his arm, it did not appear that Speakman or other police officers were in a rush to get the animal off of him. He said he directly pleaded with the dog to let him go.
“I had to tell the dog to stop,” Rose said. “I asked the dog, ‘Please stop. It hurts’ and he finally let go.”
‘I think it’s a justifiable bite’
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, as officers were trying to bandage Rose’s arm, Speakman appeared to try to justify his actions when Rose asked why he turned the dog loose on him, according to Speakman’s body camera footage.
“I gave you three warnings. Did I not? You didn’t comply, so you got the dog,” Speakman said, according to the video.
The footage also captured Speakman telling another officer at the scene, “I think it’s a justifiable bite.”
In his written narrative of the incident, contained in the records released to ABC News, Speakman repeated that he gave Rose three warnings and then “made the decision to deploy K-9 Serge off lead in the suspect’s direction.” He did not mention whether he heard the trooper ordering him not to release the dog while Rose’s hands were in the air.
Rose’s encounter with the police dog came after he led state troopers on a three-county chase, officials said. The pursuit unfolded when the Ohio State Highway Police attempted to pull Rose over for missing a mudflap on his trailer, according to an incident report.
Rose told ABC News that he initially stopped, but then pulled away when he saw officers approaching his semi-truck with their guns drawn.
He said he called 911 during a more than 30-mile chase because he was “hoping that they would be able to help me.”
“I wanted to get out. I hadn’t committed a crime. It’s not like I murdered somebody, and they got their guns ready to shoot me,” Rose said. “I just didn’t want to die. That’s what was going through my mind. I just didn’t want to die. That’s why I called them for help.”
Rose was forced to stop when police put spike strips in front of his big rig, blowing out his tires, authorities said.
After being attacked by the dog, Rose was treated at a hospital and later booked at the Ross County Jail on charges of failure to comply, a fourth-degree felony. The charges have not been dismissed, according to national civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Rose.
Efforts by ABC News to reach Speakman for comment have been unsuccessful.
Prior disciplinary action against Speakman
The records released by the city law director also included documents from a previous incident in which Speakman was disciplined.
In April 2021, Speakman was given a one-day suspension without pay after he was the subject of an internal affairs investigation over “horseplay,” according to the records. Officials said Speakman admitted to approaching a fellow Circleville cop on Feb. 27, 2021, at the police station, snatching the officer’s gun from his holster and emptying it of bullets, an act police brass described as “muzzling” the officer.
“Speakman stated that he took full responsibility for his actions and that it was a dumb thing to do,” according to the records.
Tom Austin, executive director of the Ohio Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, said in a statement released Wednesday following the announcement of Speakman’s firing that the union’s senior lawyer, Joseph Hegedus, has filed an official grievance with the city of Circleville contending the officer was terminated “without just cause.”
In the grievance, Hegedus wrote the officer’s firing is “contrary to mandatory principles of progressive discipline” and is a violation of the union’s collective bargaining agreement. The grievance asked that Speakman’s termination be rescinded and that he be reimbursed for “wages, seniority and benefits lost.”
Hegedus also asked that Speakman’s termination be expunged from his personnel records.
A central Ohio Black Lives Matter group held a small boisterous protest outside the Circleville Police Department on Saturday, calling on Baer to resign or be fired for his handling of the incident involving Rose, for the dog that attacked Rose to be retired and that all charges against Rose be dropped. The organization also asked that race sensitivity training be provided to all Circleville police officers and the police department’s budget be cut by 50%.
Baer could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Crump told ABC News the incident harkened back to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement when police dogs were let loose on non-violent protesters.
“We have to say, we will not tolerate this,” Crump said. “We won’t go back to the days where they’re siccing dogs on unarmed Black people.”
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