Police in San Diego, California, have responded to a series of viral videos (below) containing footage of a police dog viciously biting a handcuffed man lying face down July 9.
The footage has left some people outraged while others have argued that the suspect got what he deserved; San Diego police Lt. Scott Wahl maintained that the footage doesn't show the full incident, notes The San Diego Union Tribune.
"While these videos can be graphic in nature to view, keep in mind our canines are extremely effective at deescalating situations and preventing elevated levels of force to take people into custody," Wahl added, according to The Tribune.
Department officials said that the officers and the German Shepherd followed protocol and did what they were supposed to, despite the fact that police dogs are trained to bite only in extreme situations.
“We want to deter people from engaging in violent and assaultive behaviors," explained Wahl. "Most of the time, merely a police dog's presence helps."
The pair of videos, recorded by Facebook user Angel Nunez, show a shirtless man standing in the middle of a major street, yelling and moving toward the officer holding the dog. When the dog first bites him, he goes down to the ground and holds his hands up.
In the second video, the man lies face down even as the dog latches onto and shakes his arm for at least 30 seconds, causing him to begin shouting "Uncomfortable!" Two officers hold his legs down, while another works to pry open the dog's jaw.
Nunez asks the officers why they can't control the dog. They order him to "shut up and get back."
"That dog needs to be taken off the force and retrained," one viewer wrote on the Facebook video that has more than 1.5 million views and 6,000 comments, as of the evening of July 12. "He is not listening to his trainer .... why was he even latched on to a handcuffed suspect is crazy to begin with"
Others questioned why the officer did not issue any verbal commands to the dog to let go.
"I believe criminals deserve what they get, but this just seems wrong," another person wrote under the second Facebook video. "He was obviously unable to resist at that point."
Many did not see a problem.
"He got what was deserved," one person wrote, while another added "the dog is just doing his job best he can."
Wahl stated that several people had called 911 to report the man, who had allegedly been exhibiting belligerent behavior, including punching a taxi driver, trying to pull stop signs out of the ground, and jumping on cars, before then acting aggressively toward bystanders and police.
The officers are taught to physically -- not verbally -- unclamp the canines' jaws, he added.
"Sometimes it takes a bit to get into the right position," Wahl explained. "It's not a perfect, sterile environment where you push a button and it happens."
Warning: videos contain graphic content.