The police department in Cookeville, Tennessee, is facing a very serious charge in a lawsuit alleging that its officers first used a police dog to attack a suspect, Carlos Ferell, without cause and then plant drugs on him. The scene is captured on this video — as well as officers mocking Ferell once the drugs are pulled from his pocket.
The video shows an encounter on the night of June 4, 2007, after Ferell’s ex-wife, Tiffany, called police on a domestic assault charge. Ferell initially fled, causing a chase. When he was told to get out of the car, he complies with orders to put his hands up by Cookeville police Officer Chris Melton. He is then attacked without cause by a police dog held by Officer Jeff Johnson. There is no visible reason why Johnson released the dog, which bites Ferell repeatedly.
Ferell is heard objecting, saying “Your dog just ate my leg off.”
The video then shows Melton searching Ferell’s pockets half a dozen times and finding nothing. Another officer appears to give him a signal and Melton immediately looks back at the camera, pulls something from his pocket, and (using the same hand) seems to put something into Ferell’s pocket. The officer then pulls out a bag of pocket and proclaims
“Whoa, Carlos, weed? Now you got you another freaking charge, how about that?” Melton told Ferrell in the video.
To watch the video, click here
Ferell is now suing half a dozen officers. Once again, one has to wonder if the there would have been anything other than a perfunctory conviction on both charges absent the dash cam. Most such claims of planted guns or drugs occurred outside the presence of such cameras. Recently, one officer chose to turn off a video before he appears to beat a woman in custory, who is shown on the film (after it is turned on again) lying in a pool of blood. For that video, click here. The officer has been fired from the department, which will also face a strong tort lawsuit.
Police dogs have been greatly reduced in number for use in this type of service. There have been a significant number of lawsuits of dogs attacking without cause or not responding to commands. Most cities use police dogs primarily for drug, bomb, and other search — or to enter dwellings where an officer might be in danger. Police dog attacks continue to generate a regular number of lawsuits. For one such case, click here.
This is not to say that Ferell is a sympathetic character. He has a long record of crimes. However, this video offers a very strong basis for police abuse charges and could result in a heavy penalty for Cookeville.