Attorneys for a Black man in Alpharetta, Ga., said their client will file a lawsuit following an incident in which he was viciously attacked by a police dog while being taken into custody, and one that proves once again that cops have no business answering calls regarding unarmed citizens suffering a mental health crisis.
WSB-TV 2 reports last Sunday, Alpharetta police were called to the home of Travis Moya because he was reportedly having a mental health crisis. It’s unclear why Moya was being arrested in the first place. His attorneys said the police knew they were responding to a mental health call.
“There was no reason for him to even be detained or arrested. But instead of an ambulance showing up, eight officers showed up,” attorney Gerald Griggs said.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it was his wife who called 911 and she also captured video that shows Moya speaking with officers while handcuffed and appearing to struggle with them slightly as she pleaded with him to calm down.
It’s an odd scene because Moya really doesn’t appear to be resisting officers much. Officers can be seen leading him away when he suddenly goes to the ground and as officers appear to struggle with him, an officer with a canine allowed the dog to attack Moya for seemingly no reason whatsoever.
“He couldn’t move, he couldn’t kick. He couldn’t fight the dog off. He had to lay there while the dog ripped him apart,” attorney L. Chris Stewart told WSB-TV.
Stewart also told AJC that “Mr. Moya was having a mental health crisis,” and that “This was non-violent, nothing crazy, but his wife felt that an ambulance needed to check him out. They called for help, and instead, a K-9 unit shows up.
“For whatever reason, they tried to handcuff him and detain him even though he was on his own property and hadn’t done anything,” he continued. “They slam him to the ground, which is excessive use of force. Then, out of nowhere, the K-9 officer brings the dog over and lets him loose on Mr. Moya while he’s cuffed on the ground.”
Video taken of Moya’s arm and posted online shows the severity of his injuries. (Warning: It’s graphic.)
After being taken to the hospital and treated for his wounds, Moya was charged with one felony count of obstruction and booked into the Fulton County Jail. According to AJC, his attorneys are demanding that charge be dropped.
According to WSB-TV, they are also demanding that all of the officers involved be fired and that an investigation into the incident be launched. A spokesperson for Alpharetta police said an investigation is underway.
“At this time, no complaint has been filed in relation to this matter, however per our policies, a use-of-force investigation is being conducted in this matter, as is performed for any instance of a use-of-force incident by one of our officers,” Officer Jeffrey Ross said in an emailed statement.
So, there are plenty of questions here.
Why was Moya arrested in the first place if the call was about a mental health crisis and his only charge stems from him allegedly obstructing police from arresting him?
Why were so many damn cops called to the scene for this? Why were cops, as opposed to mental health professionals, called at all?
And why the hell was there a canine unit present?
“Obviously, when someone calls in about a mental health crisis, a K-9 unit should not be the one that responds to it,” said attorney Madeleine Simmons, who is also representing Moya. “There’s a breakdown there in the training and the processes and policies that they have in this police department.”
Alpharetta’s K-9 policy says the dogs’ handlers “may only use that degree of force reasonable and necessary to apprehend or secure a suspect.”
That policy also instructs the department’s handlers to “exhaust all reasonable means to effect an apprehension without incurring a canine bite.” In addition, department policy requires officers to intervene if they witness an “improper use of force,” records show.
It seems like a clear-cut case of police brutality, but as we all know, finding justice for Black people tends to be an uphill battle in situations like these.
And, once again, I just have to say...
If you love me and you see me struggling with a mental health crisis, please do not call the police.