Newly released police bodycam footage shows Columbia County sheriff’s deputies as they unleash a police dog on an inmate they deemed uncooperative at South Carolina’s Columbia County Jail.
The August 2017 incident “went exactly as it should have,” according to Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson, who told the Columbia County Spotlight that the incident had been deemed an “acceptable” use of force.
In the gripping video, a Belgian malinois police dog is held at the door to a cell containing inmate Christopher Bartlett, who allegedly refused to be shackled for a move to a different cell. Bartlett has a suspected history of mental illness, per Raw Story.
Another police officer warns “You’re gonna get bit” and opens the door, freeing the dog to jump Bartlett. The dog, Lars, immediately brings him to the ground and begins tearing at the inmate as his handler screams at him to “Stop resisting.”
In less than a minute, Bartlett is wounded and shaking on the floor, where he’s cuffed and moved to a medical ward.
Lars, the dog used in the video, has been assigned to a handler — Columbia County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Dews — in the department since 2015. He will be joined by another canine, Odin, in 2018, according to the Spotlight.
Lars is trained in tracking and searching for suspects, while Odin will be a trained narcotics dog.
After mauling the inmate, Lars is praised by his handler, who offers him a bone to chew. “Good boy!” he tells the dog.
Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson praised Lars and his handler for helping remove inmate Christopher Bartlett “without serious injury.”
Dickerson said that dogs are not often used in this capacity, claiming that dogs had been used on uncooperative inmates in a similar manner less than ten times since 2015, when Lars joined the force.
“We need people to realize there is a dog and the dog is ready to go at it if you continue to push the issue,” he said. “The dog is trained so that the officer doesn’t have to get in there and get into a fist fight with somebody.”