Questions surrounding use of K9 officer in University Park SWAT situation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax is asking JSO questions about what witnesses saw at the end of a SWAT standoff in University Park.


Cell phone video from neighbors and witnesses captured the aftermath as the suspect was taken into custody. It shows what appears to be the suspect walking backwards and starting to kneel. As he starts raising his hands, the K-9 is released, and bites. The man stands, then falls and the dog keeps biting for at least 15 seconds. At that point a man steps into the shot, so we can’t see exactly when the dog stopped biting.

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JSO says it started early Thursday morning when a man in his 20s fired off several rounds at a local apartment complex, waved a gun around and refused to come out of his apartment.

“The entire time he was not compliant. We tried to negotiate with him peacefully,” JSO Sgt. Dukes said in a news conference, in response to Action News Jax question if he was resisting arrest and why the K9 was deployed.

We asked Action News Jax Law & Safety expert, Dale Carson about this situation, he has decades of experience in law enforcement.

Related Story: Man taken down by Jacksonville K-9 after hours-long SWAT standoff at Gregory Cove Apartments

“Clearly, he is appearing to surrender but the difficulty is as we, looking at a video, can’t really tell what the officers there can see,” Carson said. “If someone is starting to surrender, and they suddenly fall to the side you don’t know if they’re reaching for a gun or a knife or if they’re going to keep complying.”

The situation lasted hours. It also concerned families and one had their home hit by gunfire.

“There’s a hole through here,” Celestine Anderson said. “Came through my wall and shot in there.”

A 6-year-old girl was laying right next to the window when it happened.

“I’m still shook by it, I’m scared,” Anderson said.

Action News Jax also spoke with Hagan Van Hendrix, owner of Van Hendrix K9. He’s trained police dogs for over 20 years and consults with law enforcement agencies.

Read: Jacksonville man arrested in connection to February murder in North Miami Beach, police say

“Pulling a catch or latch dog back, it could inflict damage to the flesh. The dog should’ve been called off from my point of view, although the dog is in a high attack mode, if a handler or owner has control of the dog, the dog will respond,” Van Hendrix said.

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The Sheriff’s Office isn’t revealing the man’s name right now but say charges are pending. A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office says the video is difficult to identify who might be “represented” so he’s reaching out directly to SWAT to learn the circumstances around the arrest.

Action News Jax also sent them a higher-quality video to JSO, and it said the incident is now under administrative review. However, JSO said it cannot say anything else on the matter right now since the review is ongoing.