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A West Jordan man is suing the city's police department after one of its dogs chewed on his face several seconds after he put up his hands in surrender, the complaint alleges.
Martin Lee Hoogveldt, 33, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday against the department, and specifically one of its officers, Ian Adams, alleging illegal entry and excessive force.
Adams' body camera footage which was played for reporters at a Thursday press conference hosted by Hoogveldt's attorney, Robert Sykes shows his police canine attacking Hoogveldt in his home after he already put his hands up.
"I was just in shock the whole time," Hoogveldt said Thursday. "I did nothing but try to make it easy for them. I thought I would not be a threat sitting down."
West Jordan police responded that the video shows only one aspect of the entire incident and that Hoogveldt resisted arrest.
On March 24, 2013, Hoogveldt decided to burn a Christmas tree in a trash can in his backyard, which brought police officers to his residence on a disturbing-the-peace complaint, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
After Hoogveldt walked back into his house, he saw that three West Jordan officers had surrounded the home one in the backyard, a second outside his kitchen window and a third outside the front door. The first two had their guns pointed at him, while the one at his door had a German shepherd on a leash.
Adams, who had the dog, ordered Hoogveldt to open the front door or it would be kicked in.
"Hoogveldt was afraid to move for fear that he would be shot by the two officers holding guns on him," the complaint reads. Instead, he told the officers, "I'm scared, I don't dare move," and sat down on a couch, the complaint adds.
Adams commanded Hoogveldt a few more times to open the door, or it would be kicked in, but the man was "paralyzed with fear," the complaint reads.
Adams eventually kicked the door open and the other officers followed him in.
Sykes said the officers did not have a warrant.
When Adams ordered Hoogveldt to put up his hands, he complied. Adams then told him to get off the couch, but according to the complaint, Hoogveldt would have had to put his hands down to get off the deep, overstuffed couch.
Several seconds passed. After Hoogveldt didn't get up, Adams commanded his dog to attack Hoogveldt, who still had his hands up.
The German shepherd, Pyro, grabbed Hoogveldt's face with his jaws, and ripped and tore at his face for several seconds, the complaint reads.
"The canine pulled Hoogveldt off the couch by his face, with Hoogveldt screaming in pain," according to the complaint. "... Adams came over after a few seconds, and with some difficulty caused the canine to release his grip of the face."
The other officers then used Tasers on Hoogveldt.
Sykes estimated they used Tasers on him three to four times. One to two minutes later, Pyro bit Hoogveldt severely on his buttocks at Adams' direction, the complaint adds.
Ultimately, he suffered bites to his face, neck, buttocks, leg and arm. The bites cost Hoogveldt about $60,000 in plastic surgery.
"This ruined my life," Hoogveldt said Thursday.
At no point had Hoogveldt harmed anyone, and all Adams knew going in was that he had burned trash in a trash can and "perhaps other similar minor offenses," the complaint reads.
"After a few seconds of watching Hoogveldt sit calmly on his couch with his hands in the air, as commanded, and with no officer at immediate risk of death or serious bodily injury, Adams used excessive force and potentially deadly force on Hoogveldt," according to the complaint.
The West Jordan Police Department says officers were at risk.
They said in a written release that in the weeks before the arrest, Hoogveldt had exhibited violent behavior that included an aggravated assault with a weapon and another time was found in possession of a concealed weapon by officers.
In the Christmas tree incident, Hoogveldt had threatened neighbors with a knife and started fires twice at a neighbor's home, according to the police. A fire was burning behind Hoogveldt's house as police approached, the release says, and "to protect the neighborhood and before the fire department could come in, officers had to secure Mr. Hoogveldt."
The officers say a large empty knife sheath on a table and believed that because of his history, Hoogveldt would pose a "lethal threat" if they approached him and sent in the dog to detain him, the release says.
According to court records, Hoogveldt was charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, and reckless burning and failure to remove flammable material around a fire, both misdemeanors, in the incident. The case was resolved with a plea in abeyance to reckless burning and all the charges were eventually dismissed.
A search of Utah court records shows Hoogveldt had an animal infraction in 2006, which he resolved with a $100 bail forfeiture. And Sykes said Hoogveldt had in the past entered pleas in abeyance to disorderly conduct and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.
This is not Adams' first time under scrutiny. The officer was cleared last August for shooting and wounding a man at the Jordan Landing shopping complex.
The man, Timothy James Peterson, was carrying a metal bar that was bent in the shape of a handgun, which had a red laser taped to the "barrel," the report said. When Peterson drew the facsimile weapon, Adams felt his life was in danger and fired at Peterson.
Reporter Pamela Manson contributed to this story.