The Gainesville Police Department announced in a press release Monday it reinstated its K-9 unit last Friday after a monthlong hiatus to address staff restructuring.
The unit was previously under investigation following an incident during a traffic stop in July 2022. Terrell Bradley, a Gainesville man who fled after officers patted him down, was mauled by a K-9 about a half a mile from the initial stop. The attack resulted in Bradley losing his right eye and sustaining two broken fingers.
Chief of Police Lonnie Scott suspended the dog that mauled Bradley days after the incident.
The investigation revealed in September that three officers present took and shared pictures of Bradley’s injuries, and two other officers, Andrew Milman and Matthew Shott, exchanged congratulatory texts about the attack.
“I saw the pictures BRAVO,” Shott wrote. Milman, the officer who initiated the stop, responded, saying stories of the attack could prompt “criminals” to “stop running from me.”
Milman and Shott were placed on paid administrative suspension, while the officers who took photos received written warnings.
“I have every confidence that they will not only maintain but exceed the standard of service that has long been established by the GPD K-9 Unit,” Scott said in Monday’s press release. Previous police and K-9 misconduct was not mentioned in the media advisory.
The unit only has two K-9 handlers and their dogs, but GPD also announced in its statement it is looking to fill vacancies.
Community organizer Danielle Chanzes, 30, has led protests about the K-9 unit and Bradley’s attack since the incident last year. She said she now calls for City Manager Cynthia Curry and the city commission to do what they can to establish a moratorium on hiring for the unit.
“This is a sneaky, sly move to reinstate the unit while it’s under investigation,” Chanzes said, adding that she questions what policy changes have actually been made.
She said she has spoken to community members who are fearful of the unit’s presence in Gainesville and doubts public trust can ever be restored in a style of policing that is inherently rooted in racist practices.
“The community is not going to stand for that,” she said. “We’re going to keep applying pressure.”