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NSU Student Attacked by Police Dog and Arrested: ‘Unreasonable’ Use of Force

NSU Student Attacked by Police Dog and Arrested: 'Unreasonable' Use of Force

Norfolk’s police chief said in a statement Thursday that the use of force in Norfolk State University student London Colvin’s arrest was unreasonable.

Chief Michael Goldsmith said he will address the officer’s actions through a disciplinary process.

The following is the full text of Goldsmith’s Thursday statement:

Since January 25th, my department has been investigating the arrest of London Colvin. While we continue to wrap up the final few interviews with witnesses and officers, I feel I have enough information to determine the use of force in Ms. Colvin’s arrest was unreasonable.

I will address my officers’ actions through our disciplinary process.

My review of the policies governing the use of police canines continue. This review will ensure that Norfolk canines are used appropriately in all circumstances. As Chief, I am responsible for the policies and procedures that govern my officers’ actions. While I expect my officers to make the best judgment in all circumstances, if the policy doesn’t support the outcomes I expect, I have failed them. I am committed to having the best trained department and I will make this right.

I will make the revised policy available once I have completed my review.

Sincerely
Chief Michael Goldsmith

The Norfolk Branch of the NAACP is investigating claims by the NSU student that she was attacked by a Norfolk police K-9 early Sunday morning. According to a NAACP Spokesman, Army Reservist London Colvin was leaving an off-campus party when she was approached by officers.

NSU Student Attacked by Police Dog and Arrested: 'Unreasonable' Use of ForceThe story of Colvin’s arrest has been circulating social media and was talked about on a national radio program and a news organization that focuses on historically black colleges. The account presented by those outlets claims Colvin was held down by police while a K-9 bit her. A picture is also being circulated. It shows a large gash in what is Colvin’s leg.

Colvin’s father, Norman, shared more photos with WAVY.com. He said they show wounds to his daughter’s legs after a police dog attacked her. The pictures are shocking.

“There were two gaping wounds, one they barely could close, the other they couldn’t and it’s still open right now, but wrapped,” Mr. Colvin said. “I was hurt, I was angry and I was in complete disbelief that something like this could happen to my child.”

Three days after the attack, Goldsmith made a statement Wednesday evening. He said emergency communications got a 911 call around 2 a.m. Sunday about a loud party in the 2900 block of Bayne Avenue. Then, 15 minutes later, he said a 911 call came in about an assault in progress a few blocks away, in the 1200 block of Godfrey Avenue.

“The caller stated that there were approximately 35 people in the street fighting,” Goldsmith said. “The caller also told dispatchers that the fight had gone on for some time.”

Goldsmith said Colvin was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

WAVY News 10 spoke to student witness Carman Chatman, who said she and a group of friends were leaving the party on Bayne Avenue when two of them were unknowingly punched by other people. Chatman said Norfolk police tried asking Colvin questions about that altercation, but she refused to answer and started walking away.

What happened next is unclear because police have not released details of the incident. Chatman admits she doesn’t know what led to her friend being put on the ground, but in the midst of the commotion, she saw Colvin there surrounded by several officers.

“She was laying down on the ground with her arms under her body like this, flat down, her face down to the ground,” Chatman said. “Her arms under her chest and her body flat down, the police officer was directly on top of her holding her down.”

Chatman said she heard officers yelling and a police K-9 dog barking, but doesn’t know what ultimately led to the dog attack.

NSU Student Attacked by Police Dog and Arrested: 'Unreasonable' Use of Force“I heard someone yell ‘she got bit by a dog’ or ‘the dog is biting her.’ I looked over to see the dog was latched to her leg,” she said. “Her being bit was really unjustifiable.”

Rick James, part of the Norfolk NAACP legal team and a retired Norfolk police officer, said the NAACP’s investigation began Monday.

“The question is: did this young lady commit any crimes for the police to even take her into custody? If that’s the case, was the force used excessive, in terms of using the dog?” said Norfolk NAACP spokesman Rick James.

Police Chief Goldsmith said the officer involved in Colvin’s arrest was put on administrative duty, pending the outcome of the investigation.

“This incident is still an active investigation and we continue to interview all witnesses and officers present in the neighborhood so I can have all the facts to ensure that my officers followed procedures and used resources, including the canine, appropriately,” Chief Goldsmith said. “I will also be conducting a thorough review of the policy which dictates the use of police canines.”

Statement from Norfolk State University:

We are aware of the incident involving one of our students this past weekend. Our main concern, as it would be with any student, is Ms. Colvin’s well-being, safety, as well as supporting her academic pursuits.

Police Chief Goldsmith’s Wednesday statement:

Since becoming Police Chief, I have been working very hard to build relationships with the community. I’ve been meeting with residents where they are – whether at home, church or work.

I am committed to ensuring I have highly trained officers so Norfolk citizens can raise families, go to work and live their lives safely and securely.

This is why I want our community to have all the facts, as we know them at this time, regarding the incident which took place on January 25, 2015.

On January 25, 2015, at 2:02 am, Emergency Communications Center (ECC) received a 9-1-1 call regarding a loud party in the area of 2900 block of Bayne Avenue. Officers were dispatched, and while on scene investigating this call for service, another call was received at 2:17 am in the ECC for an assault in progress in the 1200 block of Godfrey Avenue. The caller stated that there were approximately 35 people in the street fighting. The caller also told dispatchers that the fight had gone on for some time.

Ms. London Colvin has been charged with Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest.

This incident is still an active investigation and we continue to interview all witnesses and officers present in the neighborhood so I can have all the facts to ensure that my officers followed procedures and used resources including the canine appropriately. I will also be conducting a thorough review of the policy which dictates the use of police canines.

My team has spoken to Ms. Colvin about her arrest and charges. The officer involved is currently on administrative duty, pending the outcome of the investigation.

I appreciate the public’s patience as I work through this incident and once I have all the facts, I will share them with you.

Sincerely,
Chief Michael Goldsmith

Source:
WAVY

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