VISALIA, Calif. (KGPE) — A Visalia mother spoke out Friday after sharing what she called a ‘heartbreaking’ video.
Yajaida Keys said her schizophrenic son, 21-year-old Jordan Gutierrez, was having an episode and needed officer’s assistance to get medical help, but he was instead bit in the face by a police K-9.
“My heart broke when I saw the dog bite his face and I couldn’t really do anything about it. Just standing there watching it happen is heartbreaking,” she said.
It happened just after 5 p.m. Tuesday. Police said they got a call for service for an assault after Gutierrez became violent with Keys. First one officer arrived, then two more are seen on video, one had a K-9 partner.
Sgt. Celestina Sanchez with the Visalia Police Department said officers tried to communicate with Gutierrez but he took off, threw trash cans at a patrol car, and kicked at one of them.
“Jordan was still not cooperating and still not complying. Jordan also had one of his hands in his pocket so the officers weren’t sure if he had a weapon on him,” Sanchez said.
Keys said her son’s hands were always visible, he spoke very little and he was scared. She’s heard telling officers about his mental illness.
Sanchez said at some point, and for unknown reasons, the K-9 bit Gutierrez on his hip, then his face.
“They grabbed his arms and then that’s when the dog attacked. So the dog attacked him while his arms were behind his back,” Keys said.
Gutierrez was taken into custody for obstructing an officer and resisting arrest.
Sanchez said the entire incident is under an internal review. She also said 81% of officers in the department have CIT or Crisis Intervention Training for these situations.
It’s not clear if these officers did, but either way, Keys said it’s not enough.
“Somebody who knows about mental health needs to be with an officer, because this is happening too much, way too often,” she said.
Police are not releasing information on the officers but say at this point they are not on leave. Keys said they do plan on taking legal action.