Witness of Wilton Manors officer yanking K9 at traffic stop to file complaint

WILTON MANORS, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida man who shot the viral video some said shows a police officer violently yanking the leash of his K9 partner explained what he witnessed.

The driver, who did not want to be identified, said he was driving home after a night out on Saturday when a Wilton Manors Police officer pulled him over because of his dark tinted windows.

The Pompano Beach man told 7News that he understood why he was pulled over and did not think it would take long. The stop ended up taking longer than he hoped, and that’s when he took out his cellphone to shoot video of the stop, catching the officer tugging on his K9 partner’s leash. That video has since been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on social media.

“He brought the dog out. That’s when I started videotaping,” the witness said.

The witness said what he saw was upsetting. “That bothered me because there’s no reason why you’re mad at the dog,” he said. “What did the dog do that was so angry for you to yank at the dog?”

He said this was part of a traffic stop that lasted nearly 90 minutes and left him four tickets for illegal window tints.

The K9 officer was called in when the driver said he did not consent to a search of his car. “When he approached me the first time, he said it was for tints, so I was trying to figure out what’s the problem,” the witness said. “Why do you need to search my car?”

The dog did not detect anything, and eventually, the driver was allowed to leave.

He later posted the video on Facebook, which has been viewed more than 500,000 times.

7News spoke with renown dog trainer Victoria Stilwell who said the force was not needed. “The jerking movement that you see the police dog handler do to the dog is not appropriate,” she said.

Stilwell has been working with dogs for over 20 years. The last six years were with police dogs.

She said handling a police dog this way is counter-productive, and the best practice is to treat the dog the same way you want to be treated.

“It looks like the dog was not working and it looks like the handler was irritated that the dog wasn’t working for whatever reason, and that’s why the handler basically ripped on the dog,” she said.

Wilton Manors Police said they are investigating this case. In the meantime, the officer has been reassigned.

What was seen in the video was briefly discussed at Tuesday’s city commission meeting.

“I do not want it to define our police department,” said one man. “These officers do a wonderful job.”

The driver who shot the video said the intention is important. “I mean, it’s good,” he said. “It’s good.”

The witness said he plans to file a complaint with Wilton Manors over the entire incident and the way the traffic stop was conducted.

The police dog is in the care of a veterinarian to make sure it was not injured.

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