“CLEAR VIOLATIONS”: Canton Police Chief recommends firing of K9 officer in use of force incident

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Canton Police Department
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A week after a Canton Police Officer stuck his dog on a man laying face down with his hands behind his back, the police chief has recommended the termination of Officer Nicholas Casto.

Chief Jack Gabbard released a statement Friday afternoon, saying Casto’s actions were no in accordance with training.

“My review of this incident revealed clear violations of department policy and actions that are not in line with our mission, our values or our training,” Chief Gabbard wrote. “To preserve the integrity of this department, to demonstrate my commitment to our values, and out of my responsibility to the officers and community I serve, I had no choice but to recommend to the Director of Public Safety the termination of Officer Casto’s employment with the Canton Police Department.”

The incident took place in the 1100 block of 16th Street NW at 8:45 p.m. on May 30.

Videos released by police and posted to social media depict a city police dog attacking a man as a crowd gathered, screaming at Canton officers for allowing the dog to engage the man.

It was announced the following day that Officer Casto had be placed on leave. He has served with the Canton Police Department since 2014.

The incident began when officers initiated a traffic stop after observing a vehicle failing to use a turn signal. The driver, an 18-year-old, and his passenger attempted to exit the vehicle but were instructed to stay inside, the report alleges. Officers noticed an open container in the backseat, prompting them to search the vehicle.

During the search, a firearm was discovered, leading to the handcuffing of the driver and his passenger. As a crowd gathered and tensions rose, officers faced hostility and threats, reports read. At one point, a 43-year-old bystander allegedly taunted the K-9 and made threats, the report claims. When officers attempted to arrest the bystander, the report claims he resisted, leading to the deployment of the K-9.

In the video, you can see three Canton Police Officers take down the 43-year-old who had his hands behind his back. While lying face down, Casto then deployed the K9 who began biting on the bystander while he lay on his stomach with his hands behind his back.

After detaching the K9 from the man, Officer Casto can be heard in the body camera footage praising the K9 by saying “Good boy!”