Community Groups Gather to Protest Police Use of Dogs

Brandon Upchurch, Frederick Wilson, Siti Dotson-Chambers, Steve Eaton, Washington Muhammad

By Fletcher Word
The Truth Editor

New Order National Human Rights Organization, joined by the Community Solidarity Police Accountability and Review Council (CSPARC) held a press conference on this past Sunday afternoon to protest the actions of officers of the Toledo Police Department and their use of dogs to attack people held in custody.

“When the dog attacked my brother, Mr. Upchurch, the dog attacked me, the dog attacked the community and we will not stand for that, we will not tolerate it,” said Siti Dotson-Chambers, a New Order representative.

“We’ve done everything that we can do to show them that we’re a peaceful people and we’ve relied on them for justice – at one point we’ve got to take it into our own hands and provide justice for ourselves,” said Washington Muhammad of the CSPARC.

The incident occurred on April 11 after a license-plate reader erroneously identified Brandon Upchurch’s pickup truck as a stolen vehicle. When he was stopped, he was approached by Officer Adrian Wilson with gun drawn and declined to get out of his truck initially until he could discover the problem.

When he did finally exit the vehicle “to de-escalate the situation,” said Upchurch, a series of mishaps followed. Ordered to lie down, Upchurch searched for a proper place to do so, was not deemed fast enough and Officer Wilson directed his canine partner to attack Upchurch.

Upchurch was treated for the dog bite by the Toledo Fire Department which cleaned and bandaged Mr. Upchurch’s wound; he was taken to St. Vincent Hospital to be examined and then transported to Lucas County jail.

He was charged with obstruction and resisting arrest and, after a number of postponements, now has a court date of June 12 for the misdemeanor offenses. He has pleaded not guilty.

A TPD internal review found that the officer acted properly with respect to use-of-force guidelines and will not be disciplined for ordering his dog to attack Upchurch but he did receive a verbal reprimand for carelessness in his failure to verify the license plate was stolen.

That action has not been deemed enough said the community activists this past Sunday as they stood with Upchurch and his passenger on that day, Frederick Wilson.

“I would like to let the chief know we are not okay with the dismissing of any type of wrongdoing by those officers,” said Dotson-Chambers. “I would like to let them know that this does not stop here. If the police do not police themselves, then we will police them. They will be held accountable, we will not tolerate them using dogs, punching people, calling community citizens out of their names … we are watching”

Muhammad suggested that his group CSPARC has been formed in an effort to establish a citizens’ review board outside of the purview of government agencies.

“The Community Solidarity Police Accountability and Review Council will work vigorously to ensure that everyone in our community is treated with dignity, respect and due process by law enforcement officers and agencies in the Toledo area and beyond regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, income level, mental health status, disabling condition, citizenship status or any other identity.”

Muhammad suggested that further legal action will be pursued by the CSPARC.

“We seek to file charges and testify and prosecute when they are outside the color of law – 42 U.S. Code, Section 1983,” he added.