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New Orleans suspended its K-9 unit in 2011 after the U.S. Justice Department found the dogs bit too many suspects, including those who surrendered. The unit was under federal supervision for years.
New Orleans K-9s now are rarely deployed to catch a criminal, and rarely are sent to bite anyone. The department no longer allows them to bite people suspected of property crimes, and doesn’t unleash them for hiding or fleeing suspects unless the suspect tries to attack the officer.
Currently, the strongest check against abuses of force involving K-9s may be the federal courts. That’s where Carlos Robinson, 31, is litigating his 2016 Fort Lauderdale mauling.
“I understand that right is right, and wrong is wrong, but that was definitely wrong,” he said of the dog bites that tore open his shoulder and neck.
Robinson was arrested late at night in a Walmart parking lot in Fort Lauderdale in 2016. There is no body camera footage. Robinson had stolen a Mercedes from a dealership and then ditched it after a high speed chase. He was hiding in bushes when he saw Fort Lauderdale Officer Eduardo Requejo searching for him with his dog Bero.
“I was scared,” Robinson said, “so I came out hands up. I was on my knees.” But then Robinson says Requejo uttered a word he could not understand. “And when he said that, I saw this dog transformed, like, he went crazy,” Robinson remembered.
That’s when the dog attacked.
Carlos Robinson shows his scars from a 2016 police K-9 dog bite during an interview on April 26, 2021, at his attorney’s office in North Miami. (Amy Beth Bennett / South Florida Sun Sentinel)
Two days after bonding out of jail, Robinson said he went to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department to complain.
“I felt like I was trying to tell somebody’s friends about their friend’s wrongdoing,” Robinson told the Sun Sentinel.
Internal Affairs found that Requejo did nothing wrong.
Robinson eventually pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the theft of t