San Jose, California. – warning: The images in this story are graphic and disturbing.
Anthony Paredes did not miss an opportunity to show his voice.
Even as he struggled to keep his rock life on track, the 41-year-old sang every Sunday at church, sings his beats at family events and loves karaoke.
But his voice was forever damaged two years ago when a San Jose police officer K-9 stuck his teeth in his throat and lasted for a full minute, tearing his windpipe and breaking his thyroid cartilage.
He suspected Shows was helping his girlfriend in a burglary and was hiding in the trash when police deployed a German Shepherd Tex to arrest him.
Body-worn camera footage obtained by KTVU shows the fateful confrontation in graphic detail, blood dripping down Paredes’ face as the dog hits its head side by side.
Warning graphic video: K-9 bit Anthony Paredes’ neck for one minute
“He’s missing something,” Paredes’ aunt, Leticia Salazar, said in a recent interview. “He lost that little kick. He lost that happy man he was.”
The episode underscores the main concerns that critics have raised about the use of K-9s: Unlike other force-use options, police dogs can be unpredictable, often resulting in disproportionate and devastating injuries no matter what the person did. In Paredes’ case, his injuries were nearly fatal, and he spent two weeks in the hospital.
And while advocates have long praised police dogs as valuable tools for reducing risks for officers, critics say most situations can be resolved without K-9 deployment.
In California, there is little accountability after a police dog injured and mutilated someone. State law leaves it to each agency to decide how to use the animals.
more: K-9s Involved: Bay Area Bloodhounds Bite With Few Consequences
SJPD deploys most K-9s in the Gulf region
In fact, San Jose police release more K-9s than any law enforcement agency in the Bay Area — 187 bites in five years, a KTVU investigation revealed earlier this year.
The San Jose Police Department declined to comment on the case due to the pending lawsuit. Paredes filed a federal lawsuit using excessive force against the SJPD.
But the city’s attorney general’s office denied any wrongdoing in the court papers.
Deputy City Attorney Catherine Zoglin wrote that Paradis’ injuries resulted from his “unlawful actions” and that he “committed offenses including, but not limited to, failure to obey police authority.”
Paredes’ lawyer responded that the attack on his client highlights the severity of police dog bites, adding that it is shameful how harshly police and public view these K-9 injuries are.
“Anthony’s life was worthless and they treated him like trash and he almost died,” said civil rights attorney Isaac Schweiger. “He came within inches of his life while the people who swore to protect him stood and did nothing.”
Dog advocates say dogs do their jobs
But proponents of the K-9 argue that the K-9 has done its job and its use often results in police protection.
Don Cameron, a retired Bay Area police officer trained in the use of force, said Paredes had many opportunities to surrender before police deployed the dog.
“You don’t know if he’s armed with a gun. You don’t know if he’s armed with a knife. And you don’t know what his capabilities are,” he said after reviewing the video at KTVU’s request.
Because Paredes was in the trash, Cameroon said officers could not use batons, tasers or other force options.
Anthony Paredes’ trachea was crushed by SJPD K-9 in 2020.
K-9 was deployed when the suspect ran
The K-9 scenario was revealed on February 7, 2020, when a Safeway employee on Berryessa Road called police saying that a woman had grabbed more than $350 in tequila and tried to run, according to a police report of the accident he got. KTVU.
The report says that when the worker tried to stop the woman, Paredes ran up and threatened to “cut” the employee. Records show that Paredes did not brandish a knife. The police later discovered that he had brass knuckles.
Paredes and his girlfriend fled on foot to a surrounded neighborhood where Paredes was captured by the thermal camera of a police helicopter. Officers approached the backyard with Tex. K-9 discovered that Paredes crawled into the trash.
The dog patted the crate and barked as the officers approached with their rifles drawn. One of the officers grabbed a broom and pushed it into the bowl and threw it to the floor.
Graphic images: K-9 police inflict serious injuries across the Gulf region
“Show us your hands!” The officers in Paredes shouted.
Seconds later, the dog bit his neck.
“Don’t fight the dog! Leave the dog!” An officer shouted.
The officers began to pull Paredes out of the trash. However, the dog remained tight on its neck while one of the officers tightened the dog’s harness.
“This is against police training and common sense,” Schweiger told Shoulder U. “Dogs have curved teeth. They are like hooks. When they retract, they tear more and the teeth become more stable in whatever they bite.”
Anthony Paredes was hiding in a trash can when Tex, a San Jose police dog, bit his neck for a minute in February 2020.
Hold the dog on its throat for 60 seconds
Sixty seconds into the K-9’s neck, Tex finally fired.
Ernest Burwell, a retired Los Angeles County Police K-9 handler and sniffer dog expert, reviewed the video in which he was asked to write a report on the Schweiger suit. He does not believe the police dog was used appropriately.
“The dog was grabbing Anthony’s neck as if he were some kind of wild dog in Africa where he was going to strangle him to death,” Burwell said. “Everyone stood nearby and did nothing to get this dog out for a long period of time. The other officers should be held accountable for not interfering.”
In Burwell’s opinion, the handler should have called the dog back, and given Paredes a chance to get out of the trash. The dog also shouldn’t be “in a bite” for too long, Burwell said. He said the recommended time is 10 seconds or less.
Burwell said he supports the use of police arrest K-9s — when they are used with restraint.
He said controversial issues such as Paredes show that police dogs need more oversight.
“I don’t want to see anyone lose their K-9 division,” Burwell said. “It’s a very important tool. But unless something changes, it will.”
Paredes later pleaded guilty to one count of being an accessory and possessing brass knuckles. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
more: By the Numbers: How Often Do Bay Area Police Agencies Post Bitten K-9s
Anthony Paredes and his daughter. Photo: family
The suspect can no longer sing
The two-year sentence was the latest in Paredes’ turbulent life.
At the age of 16, he was having problems on the street and got injured six times. Records show that he faced a charge of assault with a deadly weapon when he was a juvenile.
His defense attorney said in court papers that he later struggled with homelessness and drug addiction, including methamphetamine and heroin abuse. He has been arrested several times over the years for drug related offenses.
His lawyer said that since he was bitten by a K-9, Paradis has been sober.
He is also the father of a daughter.
His aunt said he currently works at a hospital that tests people for COVID.
He still goes to Family Life Center Church on Heller Street in San Jose.
But he is no longer in the choir.
He can speak, but he cannot sing.
He also became more withdrawn and depressed.
His aunt said that her nephew, whom she considers a son, has changed not only physically, but emotionally as well.
He suffers from night terrors and needs prescription medication to sleep.
“He’s having a hard time dealing with it,” Salazar said of her nephew. “He’s trying to move on every day. He lost something. He’d walk home and sing Jesus songs. He doesn’t do that anymore.”
Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at [email protected] or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez. Ivan Cernovsky is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email Evan at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @evansernoffsky.