For far too long law enforcement has utilized canine companions to carry out their dirty work. Steeped in a legacy of dog attacks on people of color during the Civil Rights Movement, to escalating the War on Drugs through drug sniffing dogs, to canine-officers chasing down and biting citizens who try to flee from abusive policing tactics, law enforcement has betrayed the friendly essence of our most trusted four legged friends.

Although these canines have been trained with no mercy, even they know when it’s wrong to attack a person despite their owner’s commands. This true in the case of Cayla Connor, who is represented by Baumgartner Law, for being viciously attacked by a police dog who only did so after multiple commands by their law enforcement handler. Officer Wong of the Aurora Police Department had his service dog attack Ms. Connor while she lay face down on the ground with two officers on top of her and several others surrounding her during this brutal arrest. 

As seen on Body Warn Camera footage, it is clear this service animal did not want to attack Ms. Connor. When Officer Wong commands his canine to “hit” Ms. Connor, his canine was immediately hesitant and retreated. The service animal did this several times after each command to “hit.” It wasn’t until Officer Wong grabbed the canine, picked it up, and forced his canine to viciously attack Ms. Connor by placing the dog on top of Ms. Connor’s legs. The canine-officer did not do this on their own, they were forced to attack. At this time, she lay on the ground with two to three full-grown police-men on top of her. Ms. Connor posed no threat to the officers as she was being handcuffed. The officer’s actions go beyond any reasonable use of force and are simply sadistic. No officer with these inclinations should be in law enforcement, and we call on the Aurora Police Department to immediately remove the officer from its force. 

While law enforcement will continuously push the narrative that canine-officers are intended to protect their handlers during an altercation, we know from past – and present – experiences these canine-officers are used to terrorize and injure citizens who are constitutionally presumed innocent before and during these vicious attacks. Not only is law enforcement violating their training to harm citizens, they are forcing our canine companions to attack even when it goes against the animal’s basic instincts. 

Baumgartner Law is filing a civil rights lawsuit in federal court on the behalf of Cayla Connor to ensure our community is represented against these violent actions by police officers. The attorneys at Baumgartner Law are here to make sure the constitutional rights of all Coloradans are protected. 

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