Canton Ohio K9 officer on leave after video shows police dog attacking man lying on stomach

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An Ohio K9 officer is under investigation after police body camera video captured the officer’s dog appear to attack a man on his stomach with his hands behind his back, authorities said Friday.

The officer, Nicholas Casto, was placed on administrative leave while the inquiry into Thursday's incident north of downtown Canton is underway, a spokesman for the Canton Ohio Police Department said in a brief statement.

“I take these occurrences very seriously," Canton Mayor Christian Turner said in a separate statement Friday. "I understand the community will have questions, and I will ensure that my office will be forthcoming with information as it becomes available."

The incident occurred after a traffic stop, when authorities found an open bottle of liquor in a car that had been pulled over for taking a "sudden turn" to a curb, according to a police department investigative report.

During a search, officers found a gun under a car seat and placed the driver and a passenger in handcuffs, according to the report. A crowd gathered in the neighborhood where the stop occurred and became combative with officers, the report states, and was ordered to leave the area.

The report states that two men in the crowd allegedly threatened a police dog at the scene and that Casto, the animal's handler, said one of the men had been warned enough and should be arrested.

Casto's body camera captured the man appearing to address the animal, but it isn't clear what he said. Casto can be heard saying he was "about to put this guy in cuffs."

"Say one more thing to this dog," Casto can be heard saying on the video as he approaches the man, who is standing in the front yard of a home next to children.

"Go inside or you're going to jail," an officer can be heard saying moments before Casto says that the man is under arrest for taunting the dog.

Officers approached the man and appeared to be placing him in handcuffs or trying to place him in handcuffs, the video shows. The author of the investigative report, who was at the scene, wrote that he saw the man immediately begin resisting when the officers approached.

The video shows three officers take the man to the ground. While the man lays on his stomach with his hands crossed behind his back, Casto can be seen approaching him as the dog repeatedly lunges toward the man's arms.

As people in the crowd scream, the video shows, an officer can be heard telling the man to stop resisting.

The dog appeared to grab the man's arm, but the video did not show any blood. After Casto pulled the animal off the man, another officer can be seen placing him in handcuffs and walking him to a police vehicle.

"Good boy," Casto can be heard telling the dog.

Four people were arrested at the scene, including the two men involved in the traffic stop and two from the crowd. The latter were arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstruction, according to the report.

One of the men also faces charges of assault on a police officer. The other was accused of making threats to a police K9, the report says.

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