CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – Newly obtained records from Ohio’s Circleville Police Department shine a light on how it handled a K-9 bite that grabbed national headlines.
The July 4 incident unfolded when Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers chased a truck driver, Jadarrius Rose, who didn’t pull over for an inspection for a missing mud flap.
The chase stretched about 30 miles across three counties. It ended in Circleville, Ohio, after troopers used spikes to pop one of Rose’s tires. There, Circleville K-9 officer Ryan Speakman joined the response, releasing his dog as Rose was surrendering to troopers.
Speakman was fired three weeks later, but the Circleville records show he was not let go because of anything he did at the scene, but rather due to his actions afterward.
Footage from Speakman’s body camera shows that the officer shouted commands before he fully exited his vehicle.
“Get on the [expletive] ground or I’m going to send the dog!” he shouted at Rose while he was emerging from his vehicle.
“Come to me!” a trooper shouted, in a command conflicting with Speakman’s.
Over the next 20 seconds, Speakman commands Rose twice more to get on the ground to avoid a dog bite, then releases the dog.
Rose is seen kneeling on the ground with his hands up as the dog, named Serg, approaches him.
Serg latched onto Rose’s left arm 30 seconds after Speakman arrived at the scene. The dog had to be pulled off after Speakman commanded the animal to release Rose.
In Speakman’s report on the incident, he wrote that Rose “refused to comply with all my attempts to get him to surrender.”
After the bite, Speakman wrote, “The suspect still continued to resist,” and that Rose was “reaching for his waist area.”
Another Circleville officer gives a similar account on the incident report.
Speakman’s video, meanwhile, shows Rose struggling with the dog latched to his arm as he bends toward the ground, but there is no view of him reaching for his waist.
As other law enforcement officers placed handcuffs on Rose and bandaged his arm, Speakman was heard approaching different people on the scene to discuss his own conduct.
“I don’t know why they seem pissed off at me,” Speakman told another Circleville officer. “He wasn’t complying. I mean, am I wrong?”
Several minutes after the bite, Speakman approached Rose, who was seated on the ground in handcuffs. This exchange was heard between the two of them:
“Y’all let a dog bite me,” Rose said.
“What do you mean? I gave you three warnings,” Speakman said.
“Bro, you just pulled up. I ain’t trying to hear that,” Rose replied.
“Did I not say …” the officer started to say.
“I was listening to the people who were talking to me,” Rose interjected.
“Did I not say, ‘Final warning, you’re gonna get bit by the dog?’ Yes or no?” Speakman asked.
“It don’t matter, bro,” Rose replied.
After the exchange, Speakman continued discussing his conduct, and said, “I think it’s a justifiable bite.”
He then walked to a trooper and muted the audio on his camera as they talked.
According to a memo from Circleville Police Chief Shawn Baer, a use-of-force review board reviewed the incident two days later and found that “all personnel involved acted within departmental policy.”
The memo, dated Friday, July 25, 2023 (July 25 was a Tuesday, but Baer did not respond to messages for clarification from Nexstar’s WCMH), was meant to serve as a summary of another investigation into Speakman that began on July 19.
“I spoke with Ryan Speakman about reports I received that he was crying and talking with other employees about being stressed over the July 4, 2023, K-9 deployment,” the chief wrote. “I ordered Ryan Speakman to stop his conduct and explained to him that if he was confident that he had followed his training and policy that there was no reason to act this way.”
Over the course of three days, Baer would learn of more people with whom Speakman had discussed the incident. The list of people included fellow officers, dispatchers, the city’s director of public safety with another employee present, and family members (including Speakman’s in-laws).
Although Speakman’s conduct at the scene had been “cleared” by the review board, which included Serg’s trainer in Pennsylvania, Speakman and Serg were scheduled for evaluation and additional training at the Pennsylvania kennel the week of July 31. In his memo, Baer indicated the board would issue its final report on the K-9 bite when the evaluation was complete at the end of that week.
“Upon completion the investigation is public record but prior to it being completed Ryan Speakman discussed so much information with so many people it had immense potential to impact the board’s ability to provide an accurate review,” Baer wrote.
The memo does not explicitly mention terminating Speakman’s employment.
A second memo, written by Detective Eric Nicholson and dated July 25, describes following instructions from the deputy chief to “deliver a sealed letter to Officer Speakman at his residence” on the 24th.
A press release from Baer dated July 24 said Speakman had been placed on paid administrative leave.
The memo states Nicholson and another detective instructed to deliver the letter “did not know what the letter stated.”
The two detectives met Speakman in the front yard and gave him the letter with instructions to open it inside his home, but the memo indicates that he opened it outside.
“Officer Speakman opened the letter and was visibly upset,” it says. “Officer Speakman then walked toward the house.”
Circleville Police confirmed on July 26 that Speakman had been fired.
Speakman filed a grievance for wrongful termination. The union representing him has not responded to requests for comment and neither has Baer as of Monday.