“Canton deserves better”: Canton K9 officer terminated following controversial incident

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Canton Police Department
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Canton Director of Public Safety Andrea M. Perry has terminated K9 Police Officer Nicholas Casto after a controversial incident in late May where Casto deployed his K9 dog on a suspect who was laying face down with his hands behind his back.

The incident, which occurred on May 30 at 8:45 p.m. in the 1100 block of 16th Street NW, involved a traffic stop initiated after officers observed a vehicle failing to use a turn signal. During the stop, officers discovered an open container and a firearm in the vehicle, leading to the arrest of the driver and his passenger.

As tensions escalated, a 43-year-old bystander allegedly taunted the K9 and resisted arrest, prompting Casto to deploy the dog. Videos posted to social media show the K9 attacking the man while he lay on the ground with his hands behind his back, drawing outrage from the gathered crowd.

Chief John Gabbard, who recommended Casto’s termination a week after the incident, stated that Casto’s actions were not in accordance with department 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 said in a statement. “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 day after the incident, Officer Casto was placed on leave. He had been with the Canton Police Department since 2014. Early this morning, Director Perry issued a letter officially terminating Casto’s employment.

Canton Mayor William Sherer also released a statement supporting the decision.

“The residents of Canton deserve to feel safe and protected by those appointed and sworn by an oath to do so,” Mayor Sherer said. “The behavior exhibited by Officer Nicholas Casto is not a reflection of the men and women of the Canton Police Department that wake up every morning with the mission to serve and protect. I fully support Safety Director Perry’s decision to terminate Officer Casto’s employment with the Canton Police Department. Canton deserves better than what we all saw, and we will do better. This is our opportunity to take corrective action on incidents that compromise the integrity of our values as a community.”

Sherer emphasized his commitment to maintaining the trust of the community and ensuring the quality of the police force.

“Nothing means more to me than the trust of this community and our safety forces,” he said. “It is my goal that this termination shows our community that we care about the quality of the individuals we send out to serve our residents, and in turn, we show our police officers that only the best deserve to keep Canton safe. I fully support the leadership of our Police Chief John Gabbard and truly believe he is the right person to lead Canton’s finest. Together, we will move Canton forward.”

The incident has sparked significant discussion about police practices and accountability within the Canton community.