As suspected in the fatal shooting that took the life of 12yr old Tamir Rice, before the North Fork Police Officer Michael Dietz even arrived on the scene, he was already plotting to use force against the vulnerable teen, according to official communications obtained by the Herald-Tribune during an investigation into the department’s K-9 unit.
As Dietz’s superior, K-9 unit leader Keith Bush, was dispatching him to the home, he wrote in a message ‘COME GET YOUR BITE’.
Now three years later, Jared Lemay, the young man at the center of the vicious mauling is one of three people suing the city of North Port, Florida for civil rights violations in connection to police K-9 attacks.
The other two incidents involve victims who were bitten by Bush’s K-9 partner Tomy. But the department has firmly stood by their team, saying the officers were cleared to use force.
The incident happened on July 16, 2012, after Lemay’s mother called police saying she feared her son was trying to commit suicide.
‘My daughter … found a noose hanging in the garage,’ Lemay’s mother told a dispatcher. ‘I’m afraid he might try to hurt himself.’
Bush dispatched his fellow K-9 unit officer Dietz to the scene, with the message ‘COME GET UR BITE’, according to official records obtained by the Herald-Tribune during an 18-month investigation into the department’s K-9 unit.
Minutes later, Bush followed up on the initial message, adding ‘IM GONNA TAKE UR BITE IF U DONT HURRY UP’.
What actually happened in the garage when officer Dietz eventually arrived on the scene differs from the officers’ and the teen’s perspective.
After seeing his sister on the phone, Lemay says he panicked and decided to hide in a trash can.
In their written reports, both officers Dietz and Bush say the garage was darkened when they arrived on the scene, making it hard for them to see where Lemay was. Lemay says that the officers’ account of the garage being darkened is false and was fabricated to make it look as though the situation was somehow dangerous
‘They made it seem like I was posing a threat to them and saying they could not see because the lights weren’t on,’ he said. ‘I watched it flick on through the cracks of the trash can.’
He says after the officers turned on the lights, one of them opened the lid of the trash can, saw him inside, pushed the can over and sicced the k-9 on him.
‘I remember hitting the ground on my hands to brace myself from falling, and I looked up at them, and I went to say ‘OK, OK,’ and the guy sicced the dog on me as soon as I started to talk,’ Lemay said.
‘I remember (the dog’s) mouth coming toward me and latching onto my face. He literally drug me out of the trash can.
‘After the dog bit me a second time, one of the police officers put his knee in the back of my head and handcuffed me.
While Lemay suffered in the hospital after the mauling, Dietz was applauded by his fellow officers. Another dialogue between Officers Bush and Brandon McHale further reveals the accepted climate of brutality.
“YOUR BITE OR (Dietz’s)?” McHale inquired.
“I LET (Dietz) HAVE IT,” Bush replied.
“NICE, HOW BAD?” McHale asked.
“BAD,” Bush wrote. “FACE AND BACK.”
“SKIN GRAFT BAD?” McHale asked. NO,’ Bush wrote. ‘COULDA BEEN WORSE THEN, HE SHOULD HAVE COMPLIED,’ McHale said at the end of the conversation.
Three years later, Lemay has initiated legal proceedings against the city in connection to the scarring attack, while police department officials maintain that the officers did nothing wrong in the incident, and were authorized to use force.