Investigations into NSU K-9 Incident Continue
By David Thornton
The Norfolk Police Department and the Norfolk branch of the NAACP are currently investigating an incident that occurred last week, when a police K-9 unit used excessive force during the arrest of a Norfolk State University student.
London Colvin, NSU student and Army Reservist, was leaving a party early in the morning on Jan. 25. when she was bitten on the leg by a police dog after officers had restrained and were handcuffing her. Officers were responding to a call which stated that more than 30 people were fighting in the street.
When Colvin declined to talk to the police about the fight, police instructed her to put her hands behind her back. Colvin refused, and asked what she was being charged with. That was when police began to restrain her.
Friends of Colvin who were present at the scene said that an officer was holding her face down on the ground and attempting to handcuff her when a K-9 officer loosed his dog. The dog savaged Colvin’s leg, resulting in Colvin being taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for treatment.
Colvin was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith released a statement on Thursday Jan. 29. “I feel I have enough information to determine the use of force in Ms. Colvin’s arrest was unreasonable,” Goldsmith said. The officer in question is being disciplined.
Goldsmith is also conducting a review of the Norfolk Police Department’s policy on the use of canines. “This review will ensure that Norfolk canines are used appropriately in all circumstances,” Goldsmith said. “As Chief, I am responsible for the policies and procedures… if the policy doesn’t support the outcomes I expect, I have failed them.”
The NAACP also began its own investigation on Monday Jan. 26.
NSU students held a rally in support of Colvin on Friday Jan. 30. They wore clothing that read “Justice for London” and “Black Lives Matter” and chanted “J for L” as they proceeded down Park Avenue. Students told the Virginian-Pilot that they want charges against Colvin dropped, for the Norfolk Police Department to pay her medical bills, and the dismissal of the officers responsible.
— King Of Facetious (@JaPharii757) January 29, 2015
Heard norfolk police let a dog chew on a nsu student leg because she didn’t want to answer question about a fight she wasn’t involved in? — Perfect Enigma (@Sir_Riddick) January 27, 2015
Wavy.com, the website of a local Hampton Roads news station, blurred a photograph of Colvin’s injuries provided by her father, which were graphic. Some saw this as an attempt to downplay the severity of Colvin’s injuries.
— Cassady Fendlay (@CassadyF) January 29, 2015
Wavy’s News Director, Jim Gilchriest, responded, saying in a phone interview that the intention was never to minimize the injury. “Wavy has a policy that we do not show video or images that are graphic in nature,” he said. A disclaimer appeared on the website on Feb 1, stating that the photo was “blurred due to graphic nature.”