SAN JOSE, Calif. - A San Jose police officer has been kicked off the K-9 unit after violating the department's use-of-force policy when his dog bit a man on the leg, KTVU has learned.
The revelation of Officer Michael Jeffrey's job status was made public in a court document filed in a federal civil lawsuit against the department.
In the Oct. 26 filing, civil rights attorney Izaak Schwaiger said that when he deposed Jeffrey this summer, the officer testified that he had been "kicked out of the canine unit" and suffered a loss of ten hours' pay as a result of that 2021 dog bite.
Jeffrey also acknowledged, according to the filing, that the K-9 unit and the Internal Affairs units found the bite fell within policy, but "ultimately that determination was overridden by the chain of command."
During the deposition, Jeffrey claimed he did not know why the bite was deemed out of policy, according to Schwaiger. Details of this investigation have not been made public.
"The higher brass of San Jose police decided it was outside of policy," Schwaiger said in an interview on Wednesday. "They disciplined Officer Jeffrey and kicked him off of the unit and retired his animal."
Schwaiger was not allowed to divulge specifics about this bite, citing the confidentiality of the Internal Affairs investigation. All he would say is that the out-of-policy bite stemmed from a 2021 dog bite on a man's leg.
Schwaiger found out about Jeffrey and his K-9 as part of his ongoing lawsuit representing a different client – Anthony Paredes, whose windpipe was shredded in 2020 when Jeffrey's dog sunk its teeth into his throat and held on for a full minute.
Parades was suspected of helping his girlfriend in a robbery and he was hiding in a trash bin when police deployed their German shepherd, Tex, to apprehend him.
Body-worn camera footage obtained by KTVU shows the encounter in graphic detail, blood covering Paredes’ face as the dog thrashed its head side-to-side.
Police found Paredes' dog bite was within policy.
WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO: K-9 bites Anthony Paredes' neck for one minute
Schwaiger believes the dog bite on the man's leg two years ago and the attack on Paredes are relevant to each other.
"Well, it's connected because we believe the city of San Jose at the time of Mr. Paredes' injury had a use-of-force review policy that was wholly inadequate," Schwaiger said. "They were rubber-stamping every single canine deployment no matter what."
But after Paredes' case came to light, publicized by KTVU in July 2022, Schwaiger said it appears as though things at SJPD have changed.
The San Jose Police Department created an Executive Use of Force Review Committee where Schwaiger said they had people "actually trained to look at uses of force objectively and say, 'Is this what we want our officers to be doing or not?'"
San Jose police declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
A KTVU investigation found that San Jose police deploy K-9s more than any law enforcement agency in the Bay Area – 187 bites in five years.
City officials and attorneys have not spoken on the record about Schwaiger's lawsuit against them.
But in court filings, Deputy City Attorney Kathryn Zoglin wrote that Parades' injuries resulted from his own "wrongful actions" and that he had "committed crimes including, but not limited to, failure to yield to police authority."
The city also revealed in court filings that Jeffrey deployed his dog on about 25 occasions that resulted in a bite to a person throughout his career and each was subject to an Internal Affairs review process. None of those previous bites were deemed to be out of policy.
The city of San Jose had also argued to keep records about this case sealed while Jeffrey's internal investigation was pending.
But US District Judge P. Casey Pitts denied that motion, now that the investigation into Jeffrey's is complete, and there was a "sustained finding" against him.
"The Legislature has concluded that these protections do not extend to information about police officers' use of force that results in death or serious injury," Pitts wrote in his order. "Indeed, the public's interest in learning about such incidents is particularly strong."