HomeCrimeInvestigations conclude that GPD officers and K-9 team followed all policies in Terrell Bradley apprehension
Investigations conclude that GPD officers and K-9 team followed all policies in Terrell Bradley apprehension
September 11, 2022
BY JENNIFER CABRERA
Alachua Chronicle has made the editorial decision to identify only the officers who are named in the video released to the public by Gainesville Police Department.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Investigative reports on the K-9 apprehension of Terrell Bradley on July 10, 2022, concluded that Gainesville Police Department (GPD) policies were followed and that the policies are in line with established standards and the policies of large police departments. Although Bradley tragically lost an eye in the incident, the reports concluded that the injury to his eye was unintentional.
GPD conducted an Internal Affairs investigation and also hired V2 Global to review the incident, the actions taken by the officers and the canine team, and GPD’s policies and manuals. V2 Global was paid $7,500 plus $1,000 in travel expenses to conduct the review.
The incident unfolded over about an hour, starting at 10:39 p.m. on July 10, when Officer Milman saw Bradley’s car roll out of Sweetwater Square Apartments, at 3501 NE 15th Street, without stopping. Surveillance video from the apartment complex confirms Milman’s observation and the reason for the traffic stop.
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At the September 8 press conference, Chief Scott said that between January 1 and July 10, 2022, there were 373 calls for service at that apartment complex, including 8 calls for shots fired, 2 armed robbery calls, 29 suspicious incidents, and 2 people who were shot.
Scott said that GPD has instructed the officers in that area to be more “visible and proactive in regards to violent crime,” which includes an increase in traffic enforcement.
Between January 1 and August 13, 2022, GPD responded to 103 calls for verified shots fired, and officers seized 251 firearms in that period, which averages out to more than one gun seized every day.
Scott continued, “When an individual who illegally possesses a firearm runs from the police and hides in an area occupied by residents, we are obligated to search for that individual to ensure the safety of the community.”
The V2 Global report concludes that Milman “followed law enforcement industry standards and was fully in compliance with GPD policy and protocols” in making the traffic stop.
Milman turned on his lights and initiated a traffic stop. Bradley slowed down but did not stop; he turned west on NE 39th Avenue and then turned into Eden Park Apartments at 1330 NE 39th Avenue and drove over 250 feet through the complex before stopping.
Milman’s body-worn camera footage shows an initial conversation between Milman and Bradley, but the audio cannot be heard because GPD cameras are set to record only video for the first minute. Milman reported that “[Bradley’s] right hand repeatedly reached down under his right leg towards the floorboard of the vehicle.” Milman said he repeatedly told Bradley to keep his hands where he could see them.
When the audio starts, Milman can be heard asking Bradley to step out of the car because he seems nervous. He tells Bradley to face the vehicle, but as Milman grabs Bradley’s left wrist to pat him down, Bradley tenses up and pulls his left arm to the front of his body while Milman says, “Stop. Stop.” Bradley then elbows Milman and runs.
Milman chased Bradley on foot and was joined by two officers who had responded to Milman’s call for backup when Bradley continued to drive without pulling over. The officers lost sight of Bradley between two buildings, at about 10:44 p.m. The officers set up a perimeter.
Meanwhile, two other officers were searching Bradley’s car. Milman had seen a baggie of marijuana on the center console during the traffic stop, and the two officers saw that baggie, then found a Glock pistol with an extended magazine between the driver’s seat and the center console. The officers also found ammunition in the trunk. During this period, they asked the Combined Communications Center to run a criminal history on Bradley and to check whether the gun was stolen. They learned that Bradley is a convicted felon who is not permitted to possess firearms, and they learned that the gun had been stolen.
At this point, five felonies had been identified: resisting an officer with violence, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, possessing ammunition as a convicted felon, carrying a concealed firearm, and possession of a stolen firearm.
Based on the felonies and the potential that Bradley might be armed and might still be on the premises of the apartment complex, the shift supervisors decided to call out a GPD K-9 team, since there was no team on duty at the time.
The V2 Global report concludes that the “utilization of a Canine Team to search for Mr. Bradley was well within law enforcement industry standards and in compliance with GPD policy and protocols. Other police agencies’ Standard Operating Procedures… were reviewed for this assessment and are consistent with this utilization.”
Corporal Josh Meurer and Ranger arrived at about 11:21 p.m., 38 minutes after the officers had lost sight of Bradley. Meurer gave two officers instructions on how to work with Ranger, including telling them to let him know if Ranger gets close to them because when Ranger is tracking a scent, he will not necessarily recognize a police uniform or discriminate between a police officer and a suspect.
Meurer and Ranger began tracking at about 11:26 p.m., using a 15-foot leash, which is common practice for canine teams to optimize officer safety. Ranger barked as he jumped out of the vehicle, then pulled Meurer toward a nearby building, where Ranger sniffed around an air conditioning unit, then started into hedges around the corner from the air conditioning unit. Bradley was later found lying behind that hedge, and if Ranger had been able to reach Bradley from that direction, he would have encountered his shoes first. However, the hedges were too dense for Ranger to walk between the building and the hedges, so he went around the outside of the hedge and found an opening about 15 feet back.
Ranger went into the bushes and can be heard growling on the body-worn camera about 3 seconds later. Meurer said, “Hey!” and Bradley can be heard moaning at 11:27:14. However, Meurer could not see Bradley and began to issue commands to show his hands. Bradley continued to yell, and Meurer told him, “Come out to me! Dog’s not comin’ off until you come out to me!” Bradley was yelling and moaning the whole time. The first words that can be understood are, “He got me, bro, I’m done! I’m done!”
When Bradley didn’t come out, Meurer moved up and grabbed Ranger’s harness while continuing to issue commands to Bradley. Bradley continued to yell, “Get your dog! Get your dog! Get your dog!” About 12 seconds have elapsed from the time that Ranger encountered Bradley.
Meurer said during his Internal Affairs interview that once he moved up, he could see that Ranger was holding Bradley’s right hand, but Meurer said he could not see Bradley’s left hand. Meurer asked two other officers if they could get into the hedges.
The two officers pushed into the hedges while a third officer held a flashlight for them. The first officer to enter the hedge could see Bradley lying on his right side, facing the building, with his feet toward the parking lot. Bradley’s right arm was extended over his head, where Ranger was holding his hand in his mouth, and his left arm was tucked close to his body. Bradley yelled, “Get your dog! He got my finger; he got my finger.” The V2 Global report notes that this is the first indication of a bite or injury.
An officer placed one hand on Bradley’s left shoulder and one hand on Bradley’s forearm, and a second officer positioned himself over Bradley’s legs. At that point, Meurer started releasing Ranger from his hold.
Meurer said in Internal Affairs interviews that it took two attempts to use the breaker bar, which works by initiating a gag reflex in the canine, because the right side of Ranger’s mouth was blocked by Bradley’s hand. Ranger released Bradley’s hand after Meurer used the breaker bar on the left side of Ranger’s mouth. During this time, Bradley yelled, “He ripped my finger!” The hold was released at 11:27:58 p.m., 44 seconds after the initial encounter.
Meurer backed Ranger out of the hedge, but they had to stop after a few feet because the leash was tangled in the hedge.
The V2 Global report notes at this point that Ranger’s “strong breathing” can be heard on another officer’s body-worn camera. The report says, “Mr. Bradley did not speak up until the dog entered the bushes and apparently grabbed him. The eye injury most likely occurred in the first moments of the encounter, as [body-worn camera footage] indicates K9 Ranger had his right hand/fingers for the final 20-30 seconds.”
The report concludes, “The dog’s contact with Mr. Bradley was a result of Mr. Bradley’s hiding location and the manner that he was positioned. Had K9 Ranger been able to enter at the opposite end of the bushes, as he attempted to do, the first contact would have been at Mr. Bradley’s shoes.”
The V2 Global report notes here that the “officer’s safety is very diminished until a potentially armed subject is fully in control (hands handcuffed or out prone on the ground not moving with hands clearly visible). It has been shown that canine handlers and dogs have been seriously wounded or killed at this point in an apprehension.”
Once Ranger let go of Bradley’s hand, the officer holding Bradley gave loud commands to put his hands behind his back, but Bradley did not comply. After the officer issued three commands that were ignored, the officer punched Bradley twice in the back. In the confusion of Ranger barking and the officer yelling at Bradley to put his hands behind his back, Bradley can be heard saying, “Your dog ripped my eye out, bro. Your dog ripped my eye out, bro,” which is the first indication of the eye injury, at 11:28:08.
The officer gave Bradley one more command to put his hands behind his back, and he complied. That officer held Bradley’s arms behind his back while a second officer handcuffed him. While they were handcuffing him—before Bradley was secured in handcuffs—the first officer told another officer to call EMS at 11:28:29, about 30 seconds after Ranger released his hold. At that point, one minute and fifteen seconds had elapsed from the moment in which Ranger encountered Bradley.
An officer untangled Ranger’s leash, and Meurer backed farther away. About a minute after requesting EMS, an officer requested that EMS respond “hot.” Two officers helped Bradley roll over, sit up, then stand. Bradley continued to yell that the dog ripped his eye out. An officer told Bradley they were going to sit him down to wait for the ambulance. The officers walked Bradley out to the parking lot and helped him sit on the curb. An officer positioned himself behind Bradley so Bradley could lean back against his leg.
The first officer who went into the hedge said during his interview that he didn’t know Bradley’s eye was out of the socket until they rolled him over to sit up. He immediately notified his supervisor and requested the “hot” EMS response, which lets EMS know that the call is urgent.
Bradley continued to yell that the dog bit him in the eye, and officers reassured him that EMS was on the way. At one point, an officer says, “Shouldn’t have been running, bro, shouldn’t have been running.” Bradley responds, “I ain’t doing sh** wrong, bro. People getting killed by polices, what the f*** you mean I shouldn’t be running?” Another officer responded, “Yeah, you’ve got a stolen gun, all types of stuff.”
The officers were attentive to Bradley while he was sitting on the curb, telling him the ambulance was coming and instructing an officer to make sure he stayed conscious.
Officers moved their vehicles out of the way so the ambulance could get to Bradley. Meurer asked another officer to take pictures of the scene, but he said they would take pictures of Bradley’s injuries after he received treatment at the hospital.
Bradley said he needed water, and the officers said that EMS would have water for him. A neighbor responded to Bradley, who was yelling about the dog and his eye, “They wanted to eat you up really, to be honest with you. That’s what they train them to do.” One officer said, “Goodnight, Auntie” toward her as she walked away, and two other officers asked if she was really his aunt. He said no, and the officers laughed. Another officer said, “I’d get in trouble if I said that,” and the officers laughed again. A neighbor brought two bottles of water and gave them to an officer, who then helped Bradley drink some water.
After an officer finished taking pictures, the officers joked about an incident the day before in which he was injured by a patient he was trying to restrain for EMS. They also joked about how Bradley got away from them while wearing boots; one officer said he lost a shoe during the chase, and another officer said he had an injured knee. Again, the officers laughed during the conversation.
When EMS arrived at 11:42, 13 minutes after the request, the officers stood back while EMS was treating Bradley. During this time, they laughed about an officer calling out the wrong name for the apartment complex over the radio while chasing Bradley.
After Bradley was loaded on the stretcher, an officer removed his handcuffs and cuffed his right wrist to the stretcher. There was a discussion about whether to cuff his left hand, and the officer who would be riding in the ambulance said something indecipherable that ended with “hit him in the eye.” GPD investigators spent considerable time trying to figure out what he said and tried to isolate his voice in the audio file. Based on the audio, one officer thought he said, “I don’t wanna hit him in the eye.” Other officers who were there said they didn’t remember the comment; the officer who made the comment, after watching the video and listening to the isolated audio, also thought he said, “I don’t wanna hit him in the eye.”
The V2 Global report concludes: “The GPD and EMS treatment at the scene, and in the Fire-Rescue truck drive to the hospital were professional, well within the law enforcement industry standards, and fully in compliance with GPD policy and protocols.”
Bradley was transported to UF Health Shands Trauma Unit for initial treatment, then transported to Tampa General to treat his eye, but his eye could not be saved.
The traffic stop
As mentioned above, surveillance video from Sweetwater Square Apartments shows Bradley’s vehicle pulling out of the complex without stopping. Florida Statute 316.125 says in part, “The driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley, building, private road or driveway within a business or residence district shall stop the vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area extending across the… road or driveway, or in the event there is no sidewalk area, shall stop at the point nearest the street to be entered where the driver has a view of approaching traffic thereon…”
The Internal Affairs investigation notes that Milman incorrectly wrote in the sworn complaint that he stopped Bradley for running a stop sign; however, the incident report and citation both state that he was stopped for failing to stop as he drove out of the apartment complex. The Internal Affairs report concludes, “Ultimately, despite the error on the arrest report, Bradley was lawfully stopped for a traffic violation and issued a citation for that violation.”
V2 Global recommended reviewing and perhaps amending the sworn complaint form to reflect the proper violation.
The Internal Affairs report investigates some other discrepancies like Milman’s original estimate of how far Bradley drove before stopping, along with inaccurate locations listed on the sworn complaint for the gun and ammunition found in Bradley’s vehicle. Milman said the distance seemed longer when he was following Bradley than it actually was, and the other two discrepancies were due to miscommunication between Milman, who wrote the report, and the officers who actually searched the car.
Use of Force Report
A Use of Force review was conducted on July 12, and Sergeant Owens, the supervisor of the K-9 Unit, determined that the use of K-9 Ranger to track, locate, and apprehend Bradley was justified. The review noted that Bradley had committed several felonies, it was unknown whether he was armed, he had ample time to surrender to officers while they waited for the K-9 team to arrive, Ranger barked as he got out of Meurer’s vehicle, and Bradley was “an immediate danger to the officers on scene and the residents of the apartment complex, had he not been located and arrested.”
Owens notes in the report that although Ranger is not trained to bite people in the head area, police canines will “apprehend what is presented to them” if the hand and arm are not accessible. Owens wrote that Ranger quickly readjusted to Bradley’s right hand after initially apprehending him in the head area. Owens wrote that “while apprehensions to the head area are rare, they do occur and they are not a violation of department policy or against case law if the head apprehension is not intentional, as it was not in this case.”
The report also concluded that Meurer could not see Bradley until he looked behind the hedge, at which point Ranger had Bradley’s hand.
Owens also said that the officer’s two strikes to Bradley’s back were justified because Bradley did not comply with verbal direction to place his hands behind his back. He also noted that Bradley had already hit Milman, had been armed prior to fleeing, and had not yet been searched for additional weapons.
The Internal Affairs investigation found one policy discrepancy: GPD’s General Order 1.5, Response to Resistance, requires that photographs be taken of any injury or complaint of injury alleged to have been caused by a member of GPD. However, the GPD Canine Manual requires that photographs of injuries sustained during K-9 apprehensions be taken after medical aid is rendered. The contradictory policies led to confusion during this incident.
Meurer and Ranger’s track of Bradley was found to be consistent with the Canine Unit policy. The report also addressed the question of whether Bradley was warned by stating that Meurer did not know Bradley was hiding under the hedge until Ranger apprehended him. The Canine Manual addresses this by stating, “During the course of tracking, it is understood the K-9 may apprehend the suspect prior to the suspect surrendering or being located by the handler.”
V2 Global recommended minor changes to GPD policies, including updating the Canine Unit Manual to match current training standards and equipment.
During their review, Internal Affairs became aware that two officers violated GPD policies by taking a photograph of Bradley’s injuries that was not submitted into evidence. An investigation found messages on a departmental electronic messaging platform that were determined to be “inappropriate and insensitive.” Two unidentified officers have been suspended with pay, pending the completion of two Internal Affairs investigations, which are projected to be available within two weeks.
A review of the body-worn camera footage also revealed some “unnecessary comments” made by officers at the scene, including statements from two officers to Bradley that he shouldn’t have run from the police and another officer’s “Goodnight Auntie” comment. The report states that these comments do not amount to misconduct but were “unnecessary and insensitive, especially considering Bradley’s severe injury.” All the officers who made unnecessary comments will receive verbal counseling, and further training will be provided if it is deemed necessary.
The video presented at the press conference includes a discussion of some officers laughing at the scene. The video concludes, “The laughing in both circumstances involved officers talking about themselves and had nothing to do with Mr. Bradley. Although the officers’ interactions did not have anything to do with Mr. Bradley, the situation, or injury, it was clearly not an appropriate time and place to be laughing during this call for service.”
In spite of the comments, the Internal Affairs report concluded that “overall the officers were reassuring and professional during the incident” but “should be mindful of their demeanor and conversations in public.”
The V2 Global report similarly concludes that the officers “were empathetic and provided support and assistance” to Bradley.
During the press conference, GPD noted that their K-9 unit was deployed 129 times in 2021, with 12 bites.
The V2 Global report notes that the two-year bite ratio for this canine team is 10.7%, which is “well within reasonable bite ratios of other canine units.” Corporal Meurer and K-9 Ranger had 29 successful apprehensions in 2021, with two bites. Between January and June of 2022, they had three apprehensions with one bite. Chief Scott later said that the threshold for concern is when 25% of incidents result in bites.
The report also concludes that “GPD policy, training, and use of the Police K9 align with standards and policy from major police departments around the country.” V2 Global stated that the “GPD criteria for conducting a search are even more restrictive in some of the types of situations a Canine Team may be utilized.”
V2 Global noted that the Canine Unit Supervisor reports to the Lieutenant Support Patrol Bureau. They recommended that GPD’s Lieutenant responsible for the Canine Unit attend Canine training and seminars “to build knowledge and contacts outside of GPD.”
V2 Global also recommended that Tactical Officers train to be backup officers with Canine Officers “to build a more effective and safer team to search for armed subjects.” V2 Global noted that Meurer’s brief instruction to the other two officers was “not as safe or effective as it could be… The tactical training, plus greater discipline and more accuracy in firearms, will greatly increase the safety of the Canine Team.”
The V2 Global report concludes, “The traffic stop, response to resistance, search and use of Police K9 for search, resulting in the apprehension of Mr. Bradley, was in compliance with Gainesville Police Department policy and protocols and within the law enforcement standards for the use of Police K9 in this situation.”
A photo of Bradley’s eye that has circulated on social media shows a small stick protruding from the inside of his right eye socket, near the nose. That raises the possibility that the injury to his eye was caused by the hedge. None of the reports draw any conclusions about the injury to Mr. Bradley’s eye except to state that “The Administrative Review could not determine the manner in which Bradley’s eye was injured, but acknowledged that it happened during the K-9 apprehension.” Bradley also had a one-inch laceration on the right rear of his head and injuries to his hand that were not detailed in the reports.
One reporter at the press conference asked whether Meurer had given a warning to Bradley. Chief Scott responded, “If he was inside a residence and you know a person’s in there, you make that announcement. But when you’re searching a wooded area, you have no idea where a person might be. They could be concealed… anywhere. You notice that as soon as he made contact, the officer said, ‘Come out, show me your hands.’ Again, all we know at this point is that there was a person that had at least one gun, was possibly armed, and that we have a K-9 out there that has made contact. Do you run in, and if the person does have a second weapon, ends up shooting the officers, or do you try to wait and… use control techniques, and you wait until you get closer so you can see what was going on.”
Scott pointed out that with the body-worn camera footage, viewers can see what the officer saw: that Meurer could not see Bradley until Meurer moved into the hedge and turned on his flashlight. The V2 Global report notes that Meurer did not have his flashlight on during the search: “This is a common tactical action in order to keep an armed suspect from having a clear target to shoot during night operations.”
Another reporter asked how K-9s know when to bite. Scott replied that the dog is taught to “bite and hold” when it locates a subject until the officer gains control of the subject and releases the dog.
In response to a question about whether the reported movement of Bradley’s hand under his leg could be seen on Milman’s body-worn camera footage, Chief Scott said it could not because the camera is mounted on the chest, so the officer can see more inside the car than the camera shows.
Another reporter asked whether it is standard to not activate the body-worn camera before approaching the vehicle, and Scott they’re supposed to activate them when they make contact. Scott said Milman activated the camera when he got out of his car, but that’s not what the video shows. The audio starts just after Milman asks Bradley to step out of the vehicle, one minute into the interaction, and the video caption at that point says, “Bodycam activated.”
A reporter asked whether GPD plans to change any of their policies due to the injury, and Scott said that’s why they hired V2 Global to review the incident and their policies. V2 Global, as mentioned above, concluded that GPD’s policies are in line with industry standards.
In response to a question about the initial traffic stop, Scott referred to the high number of people shot this year and the high number of guns recovered: “So we’ve instructed our officers to be more diligent in traffic enforcement, in fact our neighbors demand it. They’re saying, ‘Hey, what are you doing about gun violence in my neighborhood?’ We see these kids – and how do they get to the neighborhoods to start shooting? They drive. So we increase our traffic enforcement in hopes of catching these folks and stopping them before they do these acts. That’s how we get a lot of these guns off the streets – in traffic stops… Any time we have to go to a scene and see a young person dead – and particularly if we have to notify a parent – that’s something that most of these officers won’t forget. That’s what drives us.”
Several reporters asked questions about reports of racial slurs used within GPD, and Scott said that if reports were verified, they would take “swift action.” He added, “The one thing I think I do need to say is that I look at our… diversity with our K-9 unit; we have a female there. I will make sure that we have more diversity in that unit. We need to add a Hispanic and a black to the unit. We had that previously, but I need to find some officers interested in doing that, just really for the optics, if nothing else.” He added that he would remove any officers who make racial slurs.
Back to duty
Ranger and his handler will spend several days in supervised documented training before being cleared to go back to duty, standard procedure for a team that has been out of service for some length of time.
Formal charges filed
On September 7, the State Attorney’s Office filed formal charges against Bradley for one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, carrying a concealed firearm without a permit, battery on an officer, and resisting an officer without violence. The marijuana possession charge, the firearm possession charge, and the gun theft charge were dropped. Bradley is being represented by Curtis Lee of Lakeland.
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