DAYTON, Ohio — The nine minutes it took two veteran Dayton police officers to check on a dog-mauling victim who died from his injuries "horrified" their supervisor, who said there was no justification for their inaction.
Officers Daniel Hartings and Scott Pendley’s decisions and actions were harshly criticized by their supervisor, and Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl apologized Thursday to Brown’s family for police not better handling the emergency.
“Officers Pendley and Hartings had an obligation to render aid consistent with their first aid training to Mr. Brown as quickly as possible,” wrote police Lt. Kimberly Hill, then-commander of the Professional Standards Bureau, in the findings of an internal police probe. “Mr. Brown was basically left in the condition in which he was found. That obligation was neglected.”
Dayton police released the internal affairs reports Thursday after a man investigators said failed to control the dog in Brown’s death was sentenced to 100 days in jail for a misdemeanor charge.
The Dayton Daily News and WHIO-TV had requested the reports multiple times over a period of months.
Brown died of blood loss from multiple bites to his arms and legs, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.
After watching a cruiser camera video of the incident, Dayton police Sgt. Michael Pauley, the responding officers’ supervisor, said he was “horrified.”
“I didn’t go to sleep the next day after watching it,” said Pauley during an interview with internal affairs detectives. “I couldn’t believe what I had watched.”
Pauley said he worried about the potential harm the police cruiser video from the incident would do to the department because he felt there was no way to explain why the officers did not try to help Brown for nine minutes.
What happened and when
At 5 a.m. on April 25, 2017, Officers Pendley and Hartings located Brown lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
Pendley turned on his cruiser’s lights and blasted the air horn to get the pit bull to leave Brown, who Pendley later said made a slight move and may have still been alive, according to internal affairs documents.
At 5:01 a.m., the officers discussed shooting the dog and called a sergeant, saying they needed a medic and that they didn’t know their exact location.
At 5:02 a.m., Pendley, while standing next to the cruiser, called to Brown next to the cruiser and said, “Sir, sir, sir.”
At 5:03 a.m., Hartings requested a medic.
At 5:09 a.m., Pendley physically checked Brown’s condition, according to records contained in the internal affairs investigation that found “neglect of duty” but resulted in only a training memorandum.
A medic arrived at 5:15 a.m., found Brown in “cardiac arrest” and left at 5:22 a.m., documents indicate. At 5:55 a.m., Hartings shot and killed the 67-pound dog.
On Thursday afternoon, Biehl said he called Brown’s mother for the first time to apologize.
“I expressed deep regret that our response was not better than it was,” Biehl told the Dayton Daily News. “It was not in the priority that should have been in terms of responding to his immediate aid and, if there’s a threat by the dog, neutralize the threat.”
Waiting for additional officer
Pendley, who retired three weeks after the incident and therefore wasn’t interviewed by internal affairs detectives, wrote an initial statement for Pauley.
“In this report, he indicated he heard several dogs barking, and he did not know if they were all loose,” Biehl said Thursday. “He said he covered the dog that he had initially observed at the scene to make sure it did not attack the victim again or himself.”
Pendley, who according to Hartings was afraid of dogs, checked on Brown after another police officer arrived and trained a gun on the dog, which was still nearby in a yard, the internal affairs records indicate.
“(Pendley) clearly was not comfortable in approaching Mr. Brown until another officer arrived on the scene,” Biehl said Thursday. “So he was waiting for that additional officer.”
Another police officer who was one of the first crews to arrive at the scene told detectives he did not believe it was safe for Pendley to check on Brown until there was another officer covering the dog.
Reached at his workplace Friday, Pendley declined comment.
Hartings could not be reached for comment Friday.
Hartings later told internal affairs detectives he did not attempt to render aid because he was running around trying to figure out their location to know where to send medics.
‘Get help moving’
Biehl said Hartings should have called for a medic with a general location and updated with an address.
“Get help moving,” Biehl said Thursday, reiterating that protecting innocent persons is the top priority and that the dog could’ve been shot immediately if it was a threat. “In fact, it took three minutes for the medic to be called, and those minutes are important.”
“Mr. Brown needed advanced life support,” Biehl said. “Clearly, (Hartings) was trying to do something to help. It’s the prioritization of that which is problematic. … That should not have been a challenge to figure out.”
Medics said Brown didn’t have a pulse when they were transporting him to the hospital.
Audio and video recordings from a police cruiser at the scene captured Pendley saying he thought he saw Brown move when they first arrived and the dog let go of his body.
Hill, in her internal review, said she believed Brown was unlikely to have survived if Pendley and Hartings had tried to provide medical care.
The Aug. 25, 2017, findings from the internal affairs investigation, signed by Hill, found that there was not sufficient evidence that either officer displayed cowardice.
Hill did find there was sufficient evidence to show the officers failed to provide aid.
Biehl said that because Hill didn’t complete the administrative investigation on time, the only discipline available for Hartings was a training memorandum. Hartings remains on the job.
“Those timelines were not met with the commander submitting the report within those timelines,” Biehl said Thursday. “So there was an inability to administer discipline.”
A month after turning in the internal affairs report late, Hill sued the city of Dayton in federal court, alleging gender discrimination. A status conference in that case is scheduled for April 11.
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