A police chief in Virginia said on Thursday that his officers had used “unreasonable” force when they allowed police dogs to attack an Army reservist who attends Norfolk State University.
Whitney Dunn told Potomac Local that her cousin, 21-year-old Private London Colvin, was attending an off-campus party on Sunday morning when a fight occurred at around 2:15 a.m.
“She was at a party off campus. She said that a fight broke out, and she had nothing to do with the fight. She did say she was at the party, and her and her friends were leaving,” Dunn explained. “She was definitely being loud – she did admit to that.”
According to Dunn, an officer approached Colvin, but she declined to speak to him because she had not been part of the fight.
“Her and her friends continued to walk, and she said that she definitely continued to be loud, however they were walking away,” Dunn said. “The two other police officers approached her – asked her to stop. Whatever the case may be, they had her down on the ground when the dog came. Two of the police officers restrained her on the ground, and then they allowed the dogs to attack her.”
Norfolk police spokesperson Daniel Hudson insisted to Potomac Local that the police canine was allowed to approach Colvin for the safety of the other witnesses.
“There was an officer that was attempting to place the woman in custody for disorderly conduct. When [the officer] tried to place her in custody, she became combative against the officer. Another officer attempted to restrain her, but again, there were multiple people around, so the canine officer deployed the dog to restrain the woman so nobody would get hurt,” he said.
Colvin was taken to a local hospital, where she was treated for multiple dog bites.
“The force was unnecessary,” Dunn pointed out to WVEC. “She has 40 stitches she got from the dog bites. The one big wound can’t be closed because too much meat is missing and that will need plastic surgery,” said Dunn.
Colvin provided disturbing uncensored photos to Potomac Local which showed at least one large piece of flesh missing from her leg.
In a statement on Thursday, Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith said that his department had been investigating the case since the incident occurred.
“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,” Goldsmith remarked. “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.”
Goldsmith said that he would review the canine policy, and make the new policy public once the review was complete. He also said that officers’ actions would be addressed “through our disciplinary process.”
Colvin’s family argued that they did not have a problem with the arrest if she was being disorderly, but they said that the level of force used was unacceptable.
“We can understand her getting arrested, because she was being disorderly or anything like that – however she didn’t have a weapon. She can’t put her hands up, or remove her hands from anywhere, or do anything because she’s being restrained by two police officers. So to allow the dog [to attack] is the only thing that we have a problem with,” Dunn said, speaking for the family.
Colvin confirmed that she was seeking legal counsel.
Watch the video below from WVEC, broadcast Jan. 29, 2015.